Google is moving along at a fast clip updating its open source Chrome browser. Now, as noted on the Google Operating System blog, there is a pre-beta version of Chrome 18.104.22.168 available. This version is intended primarily for developers, but you can get it bysubscribing to the developer preview channel here. (Note that if you are subscribed to this channel, the iterative developer updates will be pushed to you as they arrive, which you may or may not want.) There are a lot of updates to the browser in this new release, and a post on the Chromium Developer Blog outlines them. Here’s what’s under the hood.
Chrome is based on the open source WebKit rendering engine, and the new version runs a new version of WebKit. The Chromium Developer Blog notes that previous versions of Chrome ran the same version of WebKit as Safari 3.1 runs, but there are a lot of improvements in the new WebKit. The new version supports many new CSS functions, including gradients, reflections, and full-page zoom and autoscroll.
There are also new Form Autocomplete features in the new Chrome, which will help remember what you’ve typed into fields on web pages. (You can disable this on the Minor Tweaks tab of the Options dialog.)
There is also new flexibility in spell checking in version 22.214.171.124. You can enable or disable these by right-clicking in a text field.
For quite a few other enhancements, see the Chromium Developer Blog post. Keep in mind that this is a pre-beta release, but it’s good to see development of this open source browser moving along quickly. I also continue to be impressed with how steadily WebKit improves, which is an important trend since WebKit underlies many more browsers than just Safari and Chrome, including many open source browsers.