Chromium Adds Web Store Placeholder, Labs, And An Awesome Expose-Like Feature

Those of you stuck using boring old stable builds of Google’s Chrome web browser are missing out. Chromium (the open source browser that Chrome is based on) is where it’s at. Sure, it may not be as stable as Chrome, but it has some cool new things that Google is working on.

For example, the latest builds of Chromium (already into version 7) include the new “Apps” area above the “Most visited” area on the new tab page. Here, you’ll find a new placeholder for the Chrome Web Store, which just began initial testing with developers and is due for consumers later this year. Right now, clicking this icon just takes you to the Chrome Extensions Gallery page. But in this Apps area you can also install the apps that Google includes with Chrome, including Gmail, Docs, and Calendar. (Though this is a little tricky to do currently.)

Even cooler is the new Labs area of Chromium. As spotted by the Google Operating System blog earlier tonight, if you type “about:labs” into the Omnibox in Chromium, you’ll see a new page showing “some crazy experimental stuff” that you can enable. Currently, for PCs, this is the “Tabs on the left” feature which does exactly what it says. For Macs, there’s a “Tab Overview” feature. It’s awesome.

For the past month we’ve been gushing about Mozilla’s “Tab Candy” feature, which has now been renamed “Panorama” and included in the latest Firefox 4 builds. Chrome Tab Overview is similar in that it gives you an OS X Expose-like look at all the browser tabs you have open. But what’s really awesome is that this works with your multi-touch trackpad on Macs. Simply use three fingers to swipe down and it will appear.

You can then click on any tab to go to it. Or swipe back up with three fingers to go back. As Google notes, this is perfect for fullscreen browsing.

It’s not quite the tab clutter-remover that Panorama is, but it’s still awesome nonetheless. This Labs area is undoubtedly going to be all kinds of fun going forward. Again, all of these features currently only work in Chromium, not Chrome just yet.