Google Chrome extensions: Not yet, but later

Mozilla's Firefox has an edge over Google's Chrome, when it comes to extensions that give the browser new abilities. Google plans to add abilities for extensions, though.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
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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Stephen Shankland
2 min read

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--One of Firefox's initial claims to fame is the fact that the browser can be extended with a multitude of plug-ins, and even though Microsoft caught up with Internet Explorer, Firefox still has an extension edge over Google's new Chrome Web browser.

Google's Sundar Pichai speaks at the Chrome launch.
Google's Sundar Pichai speaks at the Chrome launch. Stephen Shankland/CNET News

For now.

"We don't have that in the beta today, but we definitely plan an extension API," or application programming interface, Sundar Pichai, a Google vice president of product management, said at the Chrome launch event here Tuesday. "It is one of the things we will get to next."

Firefox extensions cover a wide swath of abilities, from synchronizing bookmarks to debugging Web site performance to showing detailed exposure data for online photographs. The extensibility has attracted scads of programmers, too, which is strategically important for most computing efforts.

Google, no doubt, envies the Firefox extension assets. But it's hard to imagine the company mustering much enthusiasm for one of the most popular Firefox extensions, AdBlock Plus, which suppresses many advertisements.

Google has a strong focus on giving Web users a good experience--indeed, it said its studies show that users find the text ads placed next to search results an overall improvement. But Google's business depends on advertising, and its $3.1 billion DoubleClick acquisition is geared to give the company strength in just the sort of online display advertisements that AdBlock is designed to counteract.

Extensions shouldn't be confused with a related technology, plug-ins, which includes software such as Sun Microsystems' Java, Microsoft's Silverlight, and Adobe Systems' Flash. Existing plug-ins work in Chrome, Pichai said.

Click here for full coverage of the Google Chrome launch.