Google Chrome 14 has just made the switch from the beta channel to the stable channel, meaning that the new update is quietly replacing Chrome 13 on many of your computers even as you read this.

As is the norm in this era of frequent-but-minor browser updates, you may not immediately notice the difference: two of Chrome 14's most notable features are mostly under-the-hood. The first is support for the Web Audio API, a draft HTML5 feature that allows developers to use what Google calls "fancy audio effects" in their pages. The second, Native Client (or NaCl), allows native C and C++ code to run in a sandbox within the browser - the intent here is to enable apps to move more easily from the desktop to the browser window, and run roughly as quickly as they do when run locally. This development is particularly promising for app developers with legacy codebases, and will only become more useful as Google adds to NaCl's list of supported programming languages.

The last major change, and one that's more user-facing, adds support for full screen mode in OS X 10.7. Chrome 14 also uses Lion's disappearing scrollbar rather than the fixed "legacy" scrollbar (though, as in other apps, the traditional scrollbar will continue to appear when using a non-multitouch pointing device with Lion).

Current users of Chrome 13 should get the new update automatically, though you can also download it at will from Google's web site. Meanwhile, users on the Chrome Beta channel should expect to see Chrome 15 moved from the Dev channel soon, while the Dev channel should soon get its first taste of Chrome 16.

Source: Google Chrome Blog

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  • inighthawki - Friday, September 16, 2011 - link

    What's the point of such quick major version changes? I don't understand. By the end of 2015 are we going to have Chrome 57?
  • ImSpartacus - Friday, September 16, 2011 - link

    Google doesn't want another Firefox 4 (and neither does Mozilla).

    Since browsers are free and distribution methods are more refined, there's very little reason for giant releases.

    Eventually, free software like Firefox and Chrome will probably use the date for version numbering, the year for the major version and the month for the minor number.
  • Phenick - Friday, September 16, 2011 - link

    The point is that browser version is entirely arbitrary. Forking is bad enough between browsers, when you factor inter-browser version forking you have an even bigger problem. Making automatic updates happen to browsers then you remove peoples expectation that version matters at all. By Chrome 57 people will hardly care about the number because they haven't had to car or do anything about it in a very long time.
  • dcollins - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    That is the point. Google <i>wants</i> people to forget about the version number. The program just slowly gets better and better over time, normally without any drastic changes. Version numbers are something that developers and enthusiasts like us should worry about, not part of the product advertised to consumers
  • inighthawki - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    Well that's not true. Version numbers are a great well to tell the consumer what they're getting. You just have to make the number mean something compared to the others.
  • dcollins - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    I have to disagree. Consumers don't like major, sudden changes in software and they don't like upgrading. Look at Microsoft Office: many users skipped Office 2000 and Office 2007 respectively. Every time facebook rolls out a major new version, a significant percentage of users are upset about the changes. How many people do you know that usually dismiss upgrades for programs like iTunes?

    By releasing many smaller versions, you lower the cognitive burden of learning something new which, combined with automatic updating, increases adoption and reduces frustration among users. Software updates are an important component of computer security, so encouraging consumers to upgrade is more important than being able to compare one number to another.
  • Leonick - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    I think it's more like they want to tell consumers they are improving faster and adding more new great features than anyone else...
    Which is why when the do a change that normal would bump the version number by 0.0001 they bump it up a whole number...
    Mozilla not wanting to look slow or outdated then started doing the same thing, the seem to add a bit more per version (but release versions not quite as often) but are just as ridiculous...
  • Phenick - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    I'm sorry but this is false. Do some research on both Mozilla and Google's decision to move to a rapid release schedule and you will see why they are doing it. Working with open source software and in large collaborative groups can be difficult to manage. So Firefox 4 is a perfect example of this. It was Mozilla's final massive iteration.

    With smaller iterations you can focus on the timing schedule and any features that aren't ready simply get bumped to the next 6 week iteration. This allows the developers to put their efforts into fixing what matters for any given release. That being bugs and instability issues.

    The number is almost entirely arbitrary, they want everyone to be on the same page. Mozilla has a decent percentage of Firefox 3.6 users because of the problem. But since Firefox 4 this isn't much of a problem because everyone is silently moved forward.
  • Spivonious - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    But the point is that smaller iterations should have smaller version number jumps.

    Does "HTML5 Speech Input API.[58] Updated icon.[59]" really warrant a major version number change (in this case, 10 to 11)?

    Google and Mozilla have made browser version numbers meaningless. They've had 11 major version number changes in less than two years.
  • Phenick - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    No the POINT is for everyone to forget about versions. There is no "Firefox 5" just Firefox. Within the coming months/years we will all forget about Chrome an Firefox's version numbers and be used to a platform that takes care of itself.

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