Today, Google's Web browser can't be customized with extensions, but the company has published details of its plan to add the ability.
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Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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"Chromium can't be everything to all people," according to the document. "User-created extensions have been proposed to solve these problems: the addition of features that have specific or limited appeal; users coming from other browsers who are used to certain extensions that they can't live without; bundling partners who would like to add features to Chromium specific to their bundle."
"Of all the Firefox plug-ins, this is the one essential one," said Firefox user Ole Eichhorn. "Chrome is faster until you factor in all the cruft that gets downloaded as ads, then it isn't faster anymore. When Chrome supports AdBlock, it will be the winner, but until it does, Firefox is the only choice."
In its document, Google described some of its goals for Chrome extensions. The extensions should silently update, just like Chrome does. They should be isolated for security reasons and only get access to resources it's entitled to use. Installation should be easy, taking only two clicks.
They should permit rich user interface options--rich enough to implement some parts of Chrome as extensions, Google said. Among the interface options should be "toolbars, sidebars, content scripts (for Greasemonkey-like functionality), and content filtering (for parental filters, malware filters, or AdBlock-like functionality)," Google said. Some interfaces will require the user to grant specific permissions, such as "access to the history database" or "access to mail.google.com," Google said.
Google will play a major role in extensions, providing a central service that can be used to issue updates and to blacklist "malicious or harmful extensions" so the browser won't use them.
"It's likely in the future we may want to provide a consumer front-end which would allow users to more easily find the most popular, highest quality and trustworthy extensions," Google also said.