Depending on how you count, Google Chrome probably turned 10 years old on Saturday (the anniversary of its existence being accidentally leaked in 2008) or Sunday (the anniversary of the day Google officially announced it). Rather than marking the milestone on a weekend or Labor Day, Google chose to do so today. And it’s doing so by releasing a meaningful update to the browser, which was originally spearheaded by a product manager named Sundar Pichai and went on to become one of Google’s most popular, important products by any measure.
Here’s what’s new:
- Across its desktop, Android, and iOS incarnations, Chrome is embracing Google’s Material 2 design principles (think: rounded corners and general simplification).
- The password manager is now better at figuring out when pages need credentials, according to Google, and its desktop version can now generate strong passwords for you on the fly.
- The “Omnibox” URL field can search open tabs, and (in a later release) will get the ability to search the contents of your Google Drive.
- Similar to the improvements to the password manager, Google says that the browser is now smarter about filling in addresses, credit-card details, and other types of information.
The fact that Google is still making meaningful improvements to Chrome after 10 years is evidence that the company has successfully resisted the temptation to let the browser slip into an era of self-satisfied inertia—a mistake that hobbled Internet Explorer at roughly the same period in its history, and eventually led Microsoft to kill IE altogether in favor of the Chrome-esque Edge browser.
Chrome has been so pervasive and influential for so long that it’s easy to forget how slick, streamlined, and refreshing it felt when it debuted. It’s tough to imagine another browser coming along and representing as much of a sea change as Chrome did in 2008–but then again, few people outside of Google would have predicted that the company had an opportunity to shake up the browser market as much as Chrome did.