Google officially announced that its web browser, Google Chrome, has left beta testing status behind today. That’s great news, the browser is amazing. But there’s a problem — it still only runs on Windows. As a Mac user, I decided to ask if Chrome leaving beta for Windows meant that a Mac beta version is near.
“We release early and often and while we are working hard on the Linux and Mac versions, the Windows version is ready so we want to get it to users as soon as possible,” a Google spokesperson told me.
A fairly typical non-answer answer, so I decided to dig deeper.
Since Google announced its intentions to bring Chrome to the Mac on the Google Mac Blog, it has set up a download placeholder screen for the Mac version of Chrome. It features the Chrome logo with a black and purple space background. Users of OS X 10.5 “Leopard” will recognize this as the default wallpaper and box art for the OS. From this page you can also sign up to be notified when Chrome for the Mac is released (you could do this before on a different page).
But this still gives no indication of how close (or far) Google is from a Mac-ready version of Chrome. The Google Code page for Chromium (the name of the open source project for Chrome) gives much more insight. The MacDetailStatus page gives updates on the four key goals Chrome for Mac must hit before it’s released: TestShell (an architecture test), pass all WebKit layout tests, multi-process and UI shell and plug-ins.
According to the latest update, Chrome for the Mac is now able to run and render web pages and can interact properly with input devices. The build is 86 percent complete with its WebKit layout tests and once it completes those it can move on to the multi-processing goals and work on the user interface. Plug-in work hasn’t begun yet and is pending completion of those other goals.
In other words, Chrome for the Mac is coming along, but still seems a ways away.
But, that page also hasn’t been updated in nearly a month. The last person to update it was none other than Mike Pinkerton, Mozilla’s project lead for the Camino web browser (a Mac-only browser) who is now working on Chrome for the Mac. While he’s undoubtedly also hard at work on Camino, which is nearing its first beta version of the 2.0 release, it’s clear that he’s very hands-on with Chrome for the Mac as well. And based on what I’ve seen from Camino (my browser of choice for well over a year now), those are good hands to be in.
And before the comments come rolling in: Yes, I know there are several projects that emulate the Chrome experience on the Mac. I’ve tried them all — some, like Stainless, are interesting, but I’ll stick with Camino until the actual Chrome for Mac comes out.