"Wait," you say, "Didn't Google just release a new edition of Chrome last month?" Yes, yes they did: Chrome 11 and now they're back with another one. If you're a cynic like me, your first thought might have been: "Is there anything new here besides the number? Is there really anything here that demands it be called a major new release?" The answer to those questions is: Yes. Yes, there are sufficient new features in this model for it to be worth given a new number.
The biggest changes have been security improvements. As Ed Bott reported recently, Chrome has had trouble with identifying phishing malware. Now, Chrome has improved its phishing and malware detection so that it does a better job of detecting potential trouble headed your way from the Internet.
Google has also improved how it handles Adobe Flash Player's Local Shared Objects (LSOs), aka Flash cookies. On other browsers, there was no native way of handling them you could either manage them with Adobe's own online LSO manager. In Chrome 12, you delete Flash cookies from inside the browser. To do this use the command
Wrench > Tools > Clear browsing data
and select "Delete cookies and other site and plug-in data."
Another feature, but one that I don't see much use for on today's Web is Chrome now supports 3D CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). This enables 3D effects. It's neat, but I expect I'll have a 3D television in my living room before I use this much on the Web. To use it properly, you'll need to run Chrome 12 on Windows Vista or above or Mac OS X 10.6 or above. There's no Linux or Chrome OS support. Grrrr! You also need a system with 3D graphics so if you have a low-end system you may be out of luck.
Chrome 12 on the test-bench
So much for features, but when you're talking about Chrome what most people want to know about is its performance. Ever since Chrome first came out, it's been known as a fast, very fast, Web browser. Here's what I found in this go-around.
As usual, I've been using Chrome 12 on both my Linux and Windows PCs. For test purposes I used my faithful old Windows 7 test box: a Gateway DX4710. This PC is powered by a 2.5-GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor and has 6GBs of RAM and an Intel GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) 3100 for graphics. It's hooked to the Internet via a Netgear Gigabit Ethernet switch, which, in turn, is hooked up to a 25Mbps (Megabit per second) cable Internet connection.
On it, I ran both Chrome 12 and the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE) 9, using a variety of benchmarks. Before moving to pure performance I checked out their compatibility with standards.
Next I ran the HTML5 Test. This benchmark is exactly what its sounds like" It checks to see how compliant the Web browser is with the HTML5 Web page standard. Once more Chrome came out on top with a score of 291 out of a maximum of 400. IE flops here with a score of only 130 points. Curiously though, Chrome 12 is slightly less compliant than Chrome 11 was with HTML 5. Chrome 11 scored 293 on the same test.
After that I put them on the test-bench with Peacekeeper. In benchmark, higher scores are better. Here, Chrome 11 and IE were close with Chrome 11 ahead by a nose with a score of 8,427 to IE's 8,343. Chrome 12, however, proved to be slower than both with 7,939.
The bottom line is that while Chrome 12 is fast, it's actually not, taken everything into consideration, as fast as it once was. I wonder whether in adding security and other features, if Chrome is getting to be a little too heavy,
Mind you, Chrome's still my favorite Web browser, and I really, really like getting control of my Flash cookies, but I'm going to be keeping a close eye on future iterations of Chrome. Firefox also used to be the hands-down winner and then it got slow, fat, and even now its memory leaks are an annoyance. I'd hate to see Chrome go down a similar path.