Google has launched beta versions of its Chrome web browser for Mac OS X and Linux. Although the software is far from a finished “1.0” release, the beta launch does mark a new era of official platform support for Google’s browser, and may help spur browser and extension development as it taps into a wider user community. Google’s Chrome browser focuses on speed, and brings features like the Omnibox (which acts as both a search and address bar) to both platforms.
On the Mac, Google Chrome supports only Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” or newer on Intel-based Macs: folks with older PowerPC-based systems won’t get to play. However, Google has worked to make the Mac version of Chrome more than a mere port, support Mac OS X technology like the system-wide Keychain. However, the Mac version is lacking a few other features, including bookmark and cookie management, as well as bookmark synchronization. Google says the emphasis was on getting Chrome solid and performing, rather than focusing on breadth of features for the beta release.
On the Linux side, Chrome integrates all with native GTK themes and handles updates through the standard system package manager, so Chrome plays well with other applications.
Chrome for both Windows and Linux supports Extensions, which add additional functionality onto Chrome that can run in its own process without destabilizing the browser. Google says extensions are coming to Mac OS X, but aren’t yet “beta quality.”