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Google Chrome 4 adds add-ons, HTML5

Google Chrome 4 is here, and it's as swift as ever. But it's also poised to take on Firefox for the title of king of browsers, as it now extends to extensions

Google has launched Chrome 4, the fourth version of its super-speedy browser. The big add is the addition of add-ons.

Google Chrome 4.0.249.78, to give it its full name, supports extensions: mini bits of software that you download separately, adding features to the browser and allowing you to tweak your browsing experience down to the finest detail. Microsoft's Internet Explorer offers add-ons -- like anyone cares -- but the emperor of the extension is Mozilla's Firefox.

Chrome has always won plaudits for its minimal design, streamlining the search and address bars into one and managing tabs individually for increased stability. Chrome's addition of the add-on could be the killer feature that wins over users of the 'Fox addicted to their customised browsing.

You can download extensions from Google's Web site. There are already plenty to choose from: Google tools like a one-click Google Translate button are well represented, as are popular add-ons like Xmarks Bookmarks Sync, Cooliris, and assorted ad blockers.

Chrome was already the fastest of the browser big boys, and version 4 doesn't disappoint. Chrome 4 scored 620.4ms in our quick 'n' dirty speed test, using the SunSpider benchmark, which tests how fast a browser loads programming language JavaScript. That's an incremental increase over Chrome 3's 641.8ms, but it's still nearly twice the speed of Firefox 3.6, and streets ahead of Internet Explorer and Opera.

Chrome 4 also adds HTML5 features, bookmark syncing and a bunch of security tightenings. Are you a Chrome user? Let us know in the comment section below if Google rocks your browsing world. If you're reading this on Firefox, Safari or -- heaven help you -- IE, could this be the news that tempts you to switch?