Chrome for Mac annoyances

December 8, 2009

I'm so clever.Google Chrome for Mac hit beta today. I’ve been living on Mac Chrome alpha builds for a couple months now, and although it has some great performance improvements over Firefox, my heart still isn’t in it for a few reasons.

Somewhat Less Awesome Bar

As you may know, I am obsessed with Firefox’s AwesomeBar. Google’s Omnibox goes most of the way towards competing with the AwesomeBar, with the bonus that it does away with the pointless detached search field. However, Chrome’s location bar is still immature compared to Firefox’s.

Partial word matching is one example. In Firefox, when I typed ha it knew I meant Hacker News. In Chrome, my destination won’t even be suggested until I type the full word “hacker”, so I end up typing ne to prefix-match the domain. Another example is that when I type aapl, Firefox always knew I meant Google Finance’s AAPL page. In Chrome, my destination doesn’t even come up in the list, even though it’s bookmarked and frequently visited. Chrome’s lack of match highlighting for your URL bar search term makes the matches feel even weaker. Lastly, the default action is a full Google Search, rather than I’m Feeling Lucky. This is totally understandable from a revenue perspective, but annoying.

Unexpected Behaviour

The biggest thing that drove me away from Firefox was flakiness. Chrome’s architecture eliminates most of the beachballing and problems caused by other tabs. As it currently stands, though, Chrome is plagued by some of the same type of issues that Firefox 3 is, where you navigate and nothing happens, often not filling the Location field for you to retry with. The reasons behind these sorts of bugs are often subtle ((I’ve seen one based on the rendering processes crashing due to an automatic update, and another caused by command-clicking a link causing a new tab which downloaded something but didn’t display the download manager to indicate this happened.)), but it’s possibly the most frustrating thing a browser can do other than crash.

Flash

I hate Flash. Everybody hates Flash. This is why some of the most popular browser extensions are Flash blockers. Without either ClickToFlash or FlashBlock, hitting Flash in Chrome is painful. This is exaggerated by Chrome’s slightly buggy Flash support. Extension support is coming, and surely one of the first extensions will be a flash blocker, but until then I’m grumpy.

Conclusion

Despite these annoyances, the speed a responsiveness of Chrome makes it just about worth it. When Firefox finishes their multi-process work, I’ll give it another whole-hearted try. Until then, it’s the browser frontier for me.

© Allen Pike. See also Twitter and Steamclock.