Google has released the first beta version of its Chrome 6 web browser, and along with the typical speed improvements, it brings some very useful features to Chrome, including improved syncing (with support for extensions), a nifty Autofill tool for forms, and an improved user interface.

The Autofill feature lets you quickly fill in web forms with information like your name, address, phone number, and even your credit card number. The information is saved for you over time by Autofill  as you shop and fill out other online forms. According to Google Software Engineer James Hawkins, “personal information stored in Chrome is safely stored and kept private until a user chooses to share the information with a website.” He also stresses that Chrome never saves your credit card information without asking you. You can view a demo of Autofill below.

Syncing, my favorite aspect of the browser, now includes support for Autofill data (excluding credit card information) and extensions — in addition to Chrome’s existing ability to sync bookmarks, preferences, and themes. The synchronized data is tied to your Google account, which makes reinstalling Chrome, or accessing your bookmarks when away from your home computer, dead simple. Competing browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer won’t be able to implement syncing as easily, since users would have to sign up for new accounts to store their data — whereas many Chrome users already have Google accounts.

Chrome 6 also sports a slightly improved user interface. For one, the Omnibox (Chrome’s address bar that handles search and other tasks)  is now “more approachable,” says Hawkins. It also added more options into the settings menu, including Zoom and Edit (cut/copy/paste) options. Speed-wise, the beta offers 15 percent faster performance on the V8 and SunSpider benchmarks, which both track javascript performance.


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