Google Chrome gimmicks show off potential

March 19, 2009

Google Chrome gimmicks show off potentialIf you’ve ever felt like rearranging Google’s homepage, filling the screen with bouncing balls, or making a Twitter map, Google Chrome can help you out. If you think this sounds like a waste of time, don’t worry: there is a point to it.

The gimmicks are all part of an experiment to see how the open source browser could be customized by developers from outside of Google. While the tools are all creative, useful or attractive (in differing proportions), the real aim is to test how stable they are.

Google hopes to prove it’s found a truly reliable way to implement JavaScript to produce interactive Web pages which don’t crash or simply play dead for some users. Doing so would be a boost for the technology behind the Chrome browser and show that it’s possible to thrive without using either Flash or Silverlight, tied to Adobe and Microsoft respectively.

The tools include Google Gravity, which recreates the familiar Google homepage but allows users to move everything you can see on the screen to a different location. However, the various features, such as the box for typing your query and the search button continue to work wherever they are on the screen. Another tool uses multiple browser windows to display pieces of a picture which can then be rearranged and merged into a single image.

There’s also a tool named Social Collider which produces mathematical diagrams based on Twitter posts. Using similar technology to the way a particle collider tracks movement, the tool produces a graph showing how posts involving a particular user or phrase have spun off further posts. The idea is that the resulting diagrams can help pinpoint how a particular topic gained in popularity.

The project is designed to promote V8, the JavaScript engine which powers the Google Chrome browser. However, the tools can be accessed and tested in any browser.

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