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Google Chrome on Apple: Table Scraps


Imminent browser release will be missing key features.

To English playwright William Congreve, more fury can be found within a scorned woman than the fiery depths of hell. While Google (GOOG) can hold a similar claim to being famously slighted by Apple (AAPL) several times this year, a furious response has instead manifested into utter indifference.

Even before it released its Chrome web browser for Windows (MSFT) systems in September 2008, Google had promised to get cracking on Mac and Linux versions. Besides the Chrome "test shell" -- a pared down browser used for testing and development -- there hasn't been an official Chrome release on anything but Windows machines. The company, however, promised to have a working beta version out by the end of 2009.

As the deadline nears, it appears the Google team might actually beat estimates by a few weeks. The release of a Mac-compatible version of Chrome will be coming soon, but in order to hit the deadline, Google was forced to eliminate many of its key features available in the Windows version -- making it barely better than the test shell.

The new version will not feature multi-touch support or 64-bit compatibility -- which disappoints only a few tech zealots -- but also lacks a bookmark manager, bookmark syncing, and browser extensions! App Mode and Google Gears are also missing, so users won't have the ability to alter site-specific features or access Gmail and Google Docs while offline.

Before these features are added in an update some time in the future, using Google Chrome for Mac will be like web browsing in the 20th century. The software might be faster, but the missing features will turn it into a very unpleasant experience. To release it at this stage, Google is both rushing to keep its promise and displaying a total lack of regard toward Apple users.

But it appears to be par for 2009's course.

Tensions between the two companies have been broiling for months (see The Apple-Google Grudge Match Intensifies) and involved a multitude of battles, both large and small: A dust-up over the Google Voice app on the iPhone that included AT&T (T) and the FCC, the refusal to carry Google Latitude in the App Store, Apple's search for another map provider, CEO Eric Schmidt's resignation from the Apple board of directors, competing smartphones, fierce attack ads by Verizon (VZ), AT&T, and Motorola (MOT), and the introduction of a new operating system.

Although Apple is surely pleased that its Safari browser still looks good in comparison, a featureless Google Chrome release just furthers the divide between the two angry tech giants.
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