Two new beta versions of Chrome were recently released for public download. Designated Chrome 30, the release includes an Android release and a desktop release for Windows, Mac and Linux. Both browsers have welcome improvements. Because Google releases new versions of Chrome six to eight times per year, most of these new Chrome versions will be familiar to users.
Chrome for Android 30 has new gesture-based navigation features, improving the overall mobile search experience. The most welcome change is that users can now switch between tabs by swiping the tab bar horizontally. Navigating through multiple pages has been awkward in previous versions. The tab switcher can be opened by holding and swiping down on the tab navigation icon, providing another means of navigation. Swiping to the left when the tab switcher panels are open is a convenient way to close tabs. When combined with voice recognition, the improvements to the mobile user experience compensate for uncomfortably small keyboards on unwieldy touchscreens.
The browser menu is also updated to "drag to open." The drag metaphor is a more consistent and accurate method of navigation, resulting in fewer errors – particularly on 4-inch and smaller screens.
Chrome now enables users to search for images with other images.
The onboard accelerometer is now accessible on Chrome apps, too. To see how the feature might be used to install the Chrome for Android 30 beta, try isthisanearthquake.com. Developers can build browser-based games, using this feature as a motion-based controller or pointing device.
Another developer-friendly feature is the MediaSource API, which improves streaming audio and video. This will be especially useful to improve apps like Spotify, Pandora Radio, and Netflix when used on bandwidth-constrained or unpredictable networks.
Both the desktop and the mobile beta have improved image search. With image search, the user can use an image, instead of search terms, to search for related images and content (as pictured at right). On the desktop version, the user will find "search Google for this image" option in the context menu on the right side of the screen. In the Android version of the browser, holding a finger on the image will bring up the selection in the context menu.
The desktop version also benefited from many enhancements and bug fixes that improve security and stability. Through a direct reference in the release notes for the Chrome and Adobe shockwave crash problem and the Chromecast browser beta, both seem improved and more stable.
These beta versions seem to be stable. Adding gestures to web search is reason enough to install Chrome 30 for Android, and the stability of the desktop version seems to be a good reason for heavy video users who are experiencing crashes and exceptions to install it.