Google Testing New Service Features On Chrome First?

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Chrome is a great browser for Google’s web apps because its JavaScript engine is optimized to run most of them as fast as possible. That alone is reason enough for heavy users of applications like Gmail and Google Reader to use Chrome (if you have a PC anyway — the Mac version is still forthcoming). But Google may also be giving another small advantage to those who surf the web on Chrome: The ability to see new features early.

Earlier tonight we received a tip with the screenshots below. As you can see, Google Finance has a brand new interface when browsed to with Chrome versus in Internet Explorer and also Firefox (not pictured). It would seem that Google may be checking for the Chrome user agent and giving those users a glimpse at this new version of Google Finance.

Our tipster called it “lame” that Google was only offering the new version of the site to Chrome users. But there is, of course, nothing wrong with Google doing this — provided that it doesn’t mean to permanently offer different (meaning better) versions of sites to only those users using Chrome. But that seems very unlikely. Instead, Google is probably just testing some new features out to a small set of users, just as a lot of other sites do throughout the web.

After it was launched last year, Chrome caused a bit of controversy on the web because of Google’s previously strong ties to Mozilla (makers of the Firefox browser). Some were quick to jump to the conclusion that Google entering the browser wars meant that it would specially tailor sites for its own browser and neglect all the others. But Google’s prominent position on the web — particularly with web advertising — pretty much ensures that it has to play nice with all web browsers. Or at least those not named Internet Explorer 6.

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[thanks Andrew]

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