Google Chrome launched as an alternative to Firefox, Internet Explorer, and other bloated and slow browsers. Fast forward to 2015, Chrome’s become a bloated mess which drains battery, hogs resources, and is a pain in the butt to use. Google’s heard the complaints and seen first hand the monster they’ve created by wanting to make Chrome more like its own operating system than a simple browser. While Chrome OS continues to flourish, Chrome for the desktop is streamlining to make the browser easier to use and less of a battery drain.
Chrome was only released in 2008, but has quickly taken over the browser market and essentially killed what we knew as Internet Explorer. The browser’s rendering is a forked version of Webkit named Blink. The new rendering engine is one of the fastest engines out there, only being beat by Opera’s Presto engine. But essentially all this mumbo-jumbo means Chrome’s framework is the fastest way to rendered and load the web, at least today. The extra features have slowed and created problems for Macbook and Windows owners across the world. At any given time Chrome is listening for “Okay Google”, or running in the background to offer notifications from apps like Tweetdeck. These features, while handy, go unused by a majority of users and become huge resource hogs.
Google knows users flocked to Chrome to get away from the slowness of Firefox and Internet Explorer. The company has pushed out updates which remove the hot-word detection along with the notification menu. This surprising for a few reasons, but also exciting because Google’s working to make Chrome less clunky. The removal of “Okay Google” is huge considering it’s a cornerstone of Android and Google’s move to make searching the web easier. Chrome will still use “Okay Google,” but now you’ll need to click the mic icon to tell Chrome you want to talk. The small change means Chrome isn’t always listening, and will save resources and battery. However, for the users who use “Okay Google” to search they’ll have to either find an extension or switch to Chrome OS.
The removal of the notification menu is a small shift away from Google’s previous mission of popularizing notifications on the web,and unifying the mobile and desktop experience. “With the growth of web push, notifications are an increasingly important way for users to engage with web pages they care about,” DeWitt said in a blog post. Push notifications are one of the more popular ways for apps on iOS and somewhat Android, to ‘push’ notifications to their users. DeWitt thinks “by streamlining the experience on desktop, Chrome can ensure a simple notification experience on every platform.” Which worked for a while, but users didn’t want notifications from their browser bothering them throughout the day. Most users already received notifications on their phones and the Chrome notifications were, more often than not, the same ones on your phone.
By ditching these somewhat key features Google’s working for the users to make the browser faster and more efficient. The power user may balk at these changes, but those users are always able to find extensions to mimic the features Google’s ditching. I used the notification menu often because I’m an active Tweetdeck user. Now I’ll either referee to my phone or switch to another Twitter client like Twitter for Mac. While the changes affect me, I’m more excited to see if Chrome will stop using up so much RAM and quit draining my laptop’s battery so quickly. Google will surely remove a few more features in future updates, but they’ll be smaller behind the scenes bells and whistles that users don’t really notice. The users will hopefully be more impressed by the faster browser and how it doesn’t drain their batteries as quickly.
Tell us if you think Google removing these features streamlined Chrome or if Google still has a lot of work to make Chrome great again.