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1/25/2010
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Google Chrome Gets Extensions, APIs

With support for user-installed extensions, Google Chrome presents stronger competition to the more established Web browsers.

Only days after Mozilla introduced Firefox 3.6, Google has rolled out a new stable release of Google Chrome for Windows.

Google maintains three separate tracks for its Chrome Web browser: developer, beta, and stable.

The updated stable release bring support for Chrome Extensions, a feature that users of Chrome's developer and beta releases have had since late last year. Extensibility has been one of the major factors in the success of Firefox.

And as with Firefox, some of the most popular extensions for Chrome block ads.

"Google Chrome extensions use the same multiprocess technology that makes the browser fast and more secure, so that extensions won't crash or slow down your browser," said Google product manager Ian Fette in a blog post.

Google has enabled extensions in the Google Chrome for Linux beta and it plans to do the same shortly for Chrome on the Mac.

The updated version of Chrome for Windows also adds support for several new HTML and JavaScript APIs. These include the Web SQL Database API, which allows local storage of structured data; the local storage portion of the Web Storage API, a simpler local storage mechanism; WebSockets, a way to send data back and forth over a persistent communication channel; and a Windows-only notification API, for passing non-disruptive updates to a panel in the user's status-bar area.

In a separate blog post, Fette also said that Google is working to implement a service called Application Cache, which allows the serving of HTML and JavaScript that references Web SQL data. Its engineers are also working on the SessionStorage part of the Web Storage API.

While Firefox use continues to grow, Google's ongoing efforts to polish Chrome appear to be prompting some Firefox fans to reconsider their browser choice. A thread on Reddit about Chrome use suggests that Google's focus on browser basics like speed, stability, and security resonates with users.

Running Mozilla's Dromaeo JavaScript test on Windows XP, Chrome 4.0.302.3 beat Firefox 3.6 in three out of four of the speed trials, with a final score of 139.19 to 83.90.

At the end of this year, Google plans to release Chrome OS, an operating system based on its Web browser.

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