Search and you shall find

HENRY COOKE
Last updated 05:00 02/02/2014

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Google is a fairly exciting company to watch. It buys robot companies. It makes digitised contact lenses. It creates self-driving cars. It maps the world.

Yet these achievements all faded into obscurity a few weeks ago. Google finally reached its peak, its apex, it finally conquered the impossible.

It has started telling you which tab is making all that goddamn noise.

Google launched the web browser Chrome back in 2008, into a world dominated by Internet Explorer and Firefox. (To be clear, a web browser is the app you use to access websites on the internet.)

Six years and 32 versions later, Chrome has taken over the world. Quietly.

When Chrome launched, it didn't feel like a Google product at all. It was stripped down, minimal, missing features, running an Apple-developed rendering kit.

As an avowed Firefox user, I hated it. But Google didn't just release Chrome so it could have a browser - it really wanted this thing to dominate, as Chrome users are essentially guaranteed to use Google for their web searches, and if they want the most of out their browser, Gmail for their email. Everything missing from Chrome (extensions, proper middle-click scrolling, dropdown back button menus) was added in mere months.

Now, Chrome is the most used browser in the world. It's the first thing most people download on a new laptop, or even a new iOS device these days.

The more you use Chrome, the better it gets, from the synced bookmarks and tabs across devices to the holy grail of features I mentioned earlier - the tab notifier.

For those of us who usually have 15 or so tabs open, knowing which one is blasting an annoying ad is a godsend.

But nobody really talks about it. Browsers are pretty boring. They're older than Lorde, and most of the innovation within them concerns new CSS layout rendering and whatnot - stuff that's only exciting if you design websites for a living.

Plus, mobile apps have taken the crown away from browsers. More and more people are interacting with the internet from discrete apps, rather than an all in one hefty website-renderer.

Still, Chrome is important. It's Google's second biggest trojan horse (after Android), a free and excellent service designed to get you using as many Google products as possible.

That may be a bit evil, and it may be a bit hard on Firefox - but when Chrome is this far ahead of its competition, it's hard to fault it. If you somehow aren't using it yet, check out chrome.com.

Henry Cooke believes the internet is mankind's crowning achievement. Read more of him on his blog at rectangles.cc

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