When Google launched its heavily-buzzed Chrome browser for Windows back in September, the company promised that Mac and Linux versions were coming soon. In the six months since, Google has kept relatively quiet about the non-Windows versions while making steady progress behind the scenes.
In a long, in-depth article, Ars Technica’s Erica Sadun gives an overview of the current state of Chromium, the open-source software project on which the commercial version of Chrome is based. Besides providing a lengthy technical overview of the project and several videos of the code in action, Sadun interviews several key Googlers involved in the project to get a sense of the company’s philosophy and approach to Mac development.
One thing that comes through in the article is that the Chromium team’s approach to cross-platform development is distinctly different than the Firefox team’s. They are seeking to integrate the browser as deeply as possible with each target OS, rather than build an app that is easily ported to multiple platforms by being a good citizen of none. Chrome for Mac will utilize native widgets as well as core technologies like Keychain, the system address book, and Spotlight.
Sadun also reports that Google is working very closely with the WebKit project to make improvements. Since WebKit is used by Nokia, KDE, and Google’s own Android OS, these changes and bug fixes will extend well beyond Chromium. Indeed, Senior Software Engineer Amanda Walker told Ars Technica that the company’s “longterm goal is to help make all WebKit projects better.”
The article also contains Sadun’s instructions for downloading and compiling a copy of the pre-alpha Chromium source code. Anyone adventurous enough to do so might get a preview of the most advanced Mac browser coming in the next year. The rest of us will just need to wait — a beta release is rumored to be coming this fall. Then the face of Mac browsing will change once again.