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March 17, 2010

Google Chrome 4.1, Now Available

Google Chrome 4.1 for Windows doesn't add too many new features, but it's a very interesting release.

Google Chrome is the only browser that automatically translates web pages written in foreign languages. It's a great feature, previously available in Google Toolbar and in a Chrome extension, that's now included in a browser. Besides using the best free machine translation service available today and translating pages inline, Google Chrome uses a language detection algorithm that doesn't require a connection to Google's servers. The language detection library is open source and any developer can use it.

"For most languages, the library determines the language of a page by breaking down its text in quadgrams, or sequences of up to four characters. The library then looks up each quadgram in a large hashtable that contains language probabilities, which is included in the Chrome binaries. This hashtable was originally built by processing language probabilities over billions of web pages library are indexed by Google's search engine. In just a few milliseconds, the library can accurately determine the language of most web pages."

The second new feature is an improved content filtering dialog that lets you selectively disable images, cookies, JavaScript and plug-ins. It's almost like having a less sophisticated version of the NoScript extension for Firefox. You can disable JavaScript for all sites and whitelist the sites you trust, you can block third-party cookies or block images from a domain.


Chrome's blog mentions that Google Update no longer generates an unique ID for each Chrome installation. "We've implemented a new approach to our Google Update technology, which allows us to remove the unique ID from Google Update while still preserving our ability to determine the number of active users and keep everyone up-to-date with the latest security updates and speed improvements." There's also a page that explains the privacy controls that are available in Google Chrome.

Chrome is more cluttered (translation infobars and content filtering icons should be more discreet), better suited for advanced users and it's updated faster: 4.1 is an intermediary version released two months after Chrome 4.0.

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