All about Google Chrome & Google Chrome OS

04 Nov 11 Chrome 16 beta improves sync, increases security risks

Google has updated both Google Chrome Beta to version 16, and Google Chrome Dev to version 17, respectively.

Chrome Beta’s standout feature is support for multi-user profiles that can be standalone or linked to separate Google accounts for sync purposes. This allows users to access their own personal settings from another machine, but should be considered a feature that’s convenient rather than secure.

Once installed, multi-users is accessible from the Personal section under Chrome’s Options. Clicking New User opens a new window with an icon in the top left-hand corner indicating which user is currently browsing using that window. Multiple windows containing different users can be opened at once, while accounts can be configured to sync with a Google account, be renamed and have their identifying icon changed.

Google is keen to stress the feature is one for convenience rather than security. In its blog post announcing the beta, Google Software Engineer Miranda Callahan warns: “One thing to keep in mind is that this feature isn’t intended to secure your data against other people using your computer, since all it takes is a couple of clicks to switch between users”.

“We want to provide this functionality as a quick and simple user interface convenience for people who are already sharing Chrome on the same computer today”, she adds. “To truly protect your data from being seen by others, please use the built-in user accounts in your operating system of choice”.

Google Chrome 17 has no such standout features in the latest Dev build. There’s a new version of Chrome’s V8 Javascript engine ( while the user is now prompted to cancel any downloads when the last incognito window of a profile is closed. Print Preview also now supports adjustable margins.

One major issue with this new release is that the Native Client Interface (NaCI) doesn’t work in the Windows version of Chrome. This is a tool aimed at developers who wish to build web applications that seamlessly execute native compiled code within the browser itself, so shouldn’t effect end users, although as always caution should be exercised when choosing to run any pre-release software. If in doubt, stick to the latest stable release of Chrome.

Both Google Chrome Beta 16 and Google Chrome Dev 17 are available for download now for Windows, Mac and Linux.

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