Tag Archives: chrome

Gmail Chrome web app first thoughts (Sparrow for Windows pt 2)

offline gmailI’m trying out, on Damian’s recommendation, the new Chrome app for Offline Gmail. It looks a lot like the iPad mail app and that should be a good thing… but with a keyboard, and no keyboard shortcuts I can discern, I find it vaguely annoying!

The truth is, when I’m on the move, I tend to use my Macbook (which has the superb Sparrow Gmail app on it), and when I’m on a PC I have pretty decent broadband access. So the offline capability isn’t sufficient to capture my attention alone. Here’s to v2.

The cracks in the cloud

crack in the cloudsOn a recent enterprise software concern:

Me: "What browsers does your app support?"
Them: "IE7, IE8 and Firefox 3.6."
Me: "So, no current browser?"
Them: "No. But we’ve no reported issues in Chrome!"
Me: "But you don’t officially support Chrome?"
Them: "No, but we’ve never had an issue with it?"
Me: "Is that a question? What would you recommend?"
Them: "We support IE7, IE8 and Firefox 3.6."
Me: "But Microsoft and Mozilla are both forcing updates to IE9 and FF5 respectively?"
Them:"We support IE7, IE8 and Firefox 3.6. Oh, and we have an iPhone app."

Me: <sigh>.

This post was inspired by this Macworld article and real life experiences.

Guerilla browser warfare

Other than moderate contempt for Internet Explorer, which I’ve found to be slow, tedious bloatware since about IE4, I’ve always tried to be even handed in recommending browsers to people. “Try Chrome or Firefox or Opera, whatever suits you…” I’d say. And people ask me, because, well, that’s the kind of thing I tend to have a view on.

I’ve realised something over the years. People don’t want a choice. Some people do, sure, but most people are happy with the status quo. This is one of the reasons why the Microsoft antitrust ruling giving people a ‘browser ballot’ choice was so meaningless – what’s the bet that the vast majority of people just chose the one they’d heard of – so mostly IE? It’s ronseal name helps it too – after all, why would you think that “Chrome”, “Opera”, “Firefox” or “Safari” had anything to do with browsing the web?

Whilst I do continue to have a fondness for Firefox (and a polite indifference to the nice people at Opera, who I’m sure make a very good browser), I now pretty much just tell people to use Chrome. And when I’ve been fixing my parents’ machines, I’ve:

  1. hidden the desktop shortcuts to IE
  2. set up browser syncing with Chrome across each of their desktop/laptops
  3. set up the browser toolbars with vital shortcuts that I know they’ll use daily
  4. installed the IETab extension so if any website doesn’t work they can still sort it
  5. set default search to Google and activate Instant on the smartbar
  6. imported their IE bookmarks

…and so the guerrilla browser warfare kicks off. We’ll see what happens, if they get stuck or even notice…

Why Chrome? Well, it’s amazingly fast, browser sync is awesome if you use a Google Account, password saving actually works, and you get a bigger browsing area than most. It has an intuitive interface, is regularly and automatically updated so easy for people like my parents to use, and supports the latest web standards. In addition, the extensibility of Chrome (as with the add-on capability in Firefox) amps up its potential massively. The fact that new Google Apps / Google features tend to work first in Chrome is a nice bonus.

Why not Safari? Well, in truth, I haven’t used it that much. The lack of a ‘smart’ search bar offends me since every other browser now does have one, and I wouldn’t know where to start with extending it or browser sync (short of Xmarks, which I’m sad to say I abandoned when news of its closure hit (but before news of its salvation a few weeks later). My general principle against the Jobs behemoth has definitely wavered of late, so it’s not a matter of principle – interest to know if other people would knowingly choose Safari over Chrome…

Disclaimer: My agency represents Google’s Enterprise division in the UK. I’m not directly involved and don’t have any special insights. These views are all my own based on years of being unofficial tech support for people and my general deputy CIO experience.

The shine of Chrome

Disclaimer: Google Enterprise is a client. This isn’t really my clients’ beat but its not unconnected given how much faster Chrome is with Ajax/Javascript than most things, and therefore Google Apps. Well, until Firefox 3.1. Maybe.

I love Firefox. I love Chrome. I’m switching between the two interchangeably at the moment. Here’s the good and bad of Chrome and why I haven’t given up on FF altogether.

Less resource hungry – no more memory leaks!
Clean interface
More stable than FF & IE!
Windows only (I maintain my view that Apple Macs suck, and am not bothered that Google hasn’t yet released non-Windows versions. I’ve read that they will, so that’s good in principle)

Still can’t save passwords for Yahoo (FF can’t either). Why not?
Can’t distinguish between different Google Apps profiles (again, FF can’t either). Why not?

Not so good
Shortcuts go weird (e.g. CTRL – minus in Google Docs to delete a row doesn’t work)
Needs an IE rendering plugin, and lots of other plugins, which will come in time…
Some websites go bananas
Needs nicer animation around the shortcuts toolbar