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Google tunes up Chrome development

Open-source browser gets some updates, including a new version of WebKit, and early adopters can now pick from three levels of stability.

Google Chrome

Google's Chrome development team has offered a status update of its work on the company's young open-source browser.

The most significant changes, according to a Chromium Development Documentation posting on Thursday, include the following:

• New version of WebKit.
• Form autocomplete.
• Import bookmarks from Google Bookmarks.
• New network code.
• New window frames on Windows XP and Vista.

Although Chrome was just unveiled in September, Google uncharacteristically took it out of beta in December. But while the label may be gone, the company wants to keep that eternal flame burning in the "never-ending Beta test and a continuous feedback loop" via items such as automatic update channels:

With Google Chrome, we want to release fewer features more often instead of making you wait 12 months for the next Major Dot-Oh Release Jam-Packed With Features. We can get your feedback faster, fix things faster, and release new improvements as soon as they're ready. We want Google Chrome to stay nimble so it can keep pace with changes in the sites and web apps you use.

Early adopters can subscribe to one of three update channels:

• Stable channel, which delivers features and fixes only after they've been tested. This is the default channel when someone first installs Chrome.
• Beta channel, which delivers features from the Dev channel that are "stable and complete" but "may lack the polish one expects from a finished product."
• Developer preview channel, which is "where ideas get tested (and sometimes fail). The Dev channel can be very unstable at times, and new features usually require some manual configuration to be enabled."