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Google Chrome grows up: Out of beta on Mac/Linux

No more Mac/Linux beta, even more speed, and solid Flash integration soon to follow...what's not to dig about the latest release of Chrome?

I'm a huge fan of the Chrome browser. It's fast, it's a quick install, it integrates well with Google Voice, it lets me sync my bookmarks across computers, etc. However, on my Mac and Linux machines, I've been running the open source brother of Chrome, Chromium, since the beta versions of Chrome for both platforms just haven't been stable enough for my tastes, especially with Flash content (shut up, Steve - no one asked you). Now, though, Chrome is out of beta and faster than ever on all 3 major platforms.

Not surprisingly, Google devoted considerable attention to JavaScript with its latest release. Since the recent rewrite of Google Docs focused not on HTML 5 as many might have expected but on a new JavaScript engine to improve speed and functionality, Google has a clear interest in ensuring that JavaScript performance on Chrome (and, presumably, the Chrome OS) is top notch. According to Google's Chrome blog,

In our most recent beta release, we fired up all engines to bring to life our fastest version of Chrome to date.

Today, we’re bringing all this beta goodness to the stable channel so that it’s available to all Chrome users. We’re particularly excited to bring Chrome for Mac and Linux out of beta, and introduce Chrome’s first stable release for Mac and Linux users.

Improved Flash integration is coming soon as well:

While Flash Player integration in the browser is not included by default in today’s stable release, we’re excited to enable this feature with the full release of Flash Player (version 10.1) soon.

I don't care what anyone says - Flash isn't dead and there is still plenty of fun, useful, or otherwise valuable content that employs Flash. I, for one, am more than happy to see Google get cozy with Adobe if it means a more seamless, faster web experience for me.

That's not to say that Google has turned its back on HTML 5, and those who spend a lot of time in HTML 5-heavy sites (like Gmail and Google Drawings) will see improvements in these releases as well. According to InformationWeek,

Google also has rolled out more HTML5 features, such as geo-location application programming interfaces, app cache, Web sockets and drag-and-drop. The latter, for example, makes it possible to drag a file from a computer and turn it into an attachment by dropping it in an email being composed in Gmail.

Although I'm perfectly happy clicking away in Opera, Firefox, or Chrome/Chromium, the speed/stability improvements in this cross-platform release make for a pretty compelling argument to stick with Chrome, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time in Google Apps and AJAX-heavy sites.