The Google Chrome 8.0.552.28 Beta has finally been released after several weeks in the making. There's plenty to like in the new beta and, if you've been using Chrome 7 until now, it's a worthwhile update.Along with the new features which have already been available in the dev channel, Chrome 8 is the first beta to come with the built-in PDF viewer the team has been working on.
Despite Google's turbocharged release scheduled for Chrome - a new release is pushed every six weeks - the polishing phase, i.e. bug fixing, of the Chrome 8 beta actually lasted several weeks.
Earlier this week the dev channel build was bumped to Chrome 9 - it previously provided the Chrome 8 pre-beta builds - but it took a couple more days for the official Chrome 8 beta to be made available.
While the beta release was most likely ready, Google waited for a Flash Player security fix update, still due later today. Google Chrome 8 beta comes bundled with the latest Flash Player 10.1.103.19.
You can check out a mostly complete list of new features in Google Chrome 8 here. Some features that were planned for the beta didn't make the cut.
Since then, the team has also worked on a few more features such as better sync support and improved plug-in handling.
Finally, the Chrome 8 beta marks the debut of the built-in PDF viewer in this channel. Dev users have had a chance to play with the integrated PDF viewer for a few months now.
Unlike the bundled Flash Player, which is just a repackage version of the official Adobe release, the Chrome PDF viewer is built in-house.
This approach enabled the team to provide a sandbox environment for the viewer, an important security feature since PDF files are popular target for attackers. However, this also meant that when it was first made available, the viewer was rather buggy and it took quite a while to get it stable enough for a beta release
"To open a PDF document, you’d typically need to install additional software or browser plug-in in order to view it in a web browser. With the integrated Chrome PDF viewer now available in Chrome’s beta, you can open a PDF document in Chrome without installing additional software," John Abd-El-Malek, Software Engineer at Google, wrote.
"The PDF document will load as quickly and seamlessly as a normal web page in the browser. Just like we do with web pages viewed in Chrome, we’ve built in an additional layer of security called the 'sandbox' around the Chrome PDF viewer," he explained.
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