Google Chrome 4.0 Graduates to Beta Status

More people will get a chance to try out bookmark synchronization with Monday’s release of a beta version of Google Chrome for Windows.

Google introduced the bookmark sync feature for the developer-preview version in August, but now it’s also in the better-tested beta version, Chrome However, there’s still no Chrome beta for Mac OS X or Linux.

In a video explanation, Google’s Anthony LaForge somewhat breathlessly describes how the sync feature can keep bookmarks the same on multiple machines. That’s a fair point, but let’s be realistic here–bookmark sync in Chrome is more catch-up than paradigm shift. Indeed, with the popular Xmarks extension–in the works for Chrome, people can synchronize bookmarks among multiple browsers, not merely multiple computers.

And Chrome’s clever message-based sync technology notwithstanding, Chrome bookmarks would be a lot more magical if they synchronized with the Google bookmarks service, which is linked with iGoogle and the Google Toolbar.

Speaking of extensions, one of the 4.x series’ biggest features is the ability to accommodate extensions, but because Google is shifting the extensions interface, the feature isn’t enabled in the beta version. Chrome is released in three versions: the roughest, fastest moving developer preview, the more stable beta, and the stable edition for the broadest audience.

The 4.x series has other significant features, too, though it’s not clear whether they’ll arrive in the beta or stable versions. One is Google’s Native Client, which lets JavaScript applications take more direct advantage of a PC processor’s horsepower through a careful security mechanism. Another is WebGL, a 3D interface that does the same with hardware-accelerated graphics.

Together, the features have the potential to dramatically improve the power and sophistication of Web-based applications. That’s particularly interesting given that Google is building Chrome OS, a browser-based operating system.


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