Chrome 14 beta supports C/C++, OS X Lion, Native Client and more

Chrome logo 200 pixGoogle has released Google Chrome 14 Beta, a pre-release version of its open-source, cross-platform web browser. Version 14 will be of interest to developers and end users alike, with a number of new features as well as the usual range of bug fixes and tightening of security.

Chrome 14 Beta represents a major step forward for Mac users, embracing various OS X Lion enhancements, including Lion scrollbars and full support for fullscreen mode. Mac users also get print preview, which appeared in version 13 for Windows and Linux users.

Developers will be interested by the emergence of a built-in Native Client, just one year after it was announced by Google. This effectively begins the process of rebuilding Chrome itself from the ground up, putting it on a more stable footing while also giving developers the opportunity to create web apps that utilize locally stored code for high-performance activities such as games and media.

Native Client (NaCI) basically runs software within two sandboxes for additional protection, allowing developers to combine the convenience of using a cross-platform client like Javascript for web app development with the performance benefits of developing native code (in C/C++) for specific platforms. It's also been revealed that Google plans to rebuild Chrome itself as a NaCl app, allowing it to enjoy the same additional protection afforded by the double sandbox. At the present time, however, NaCl is simply a plug-in, called Pepper, accessible by typing about:flags into the Address Bar.

This shift to a more secure footing can also be seen with other updates that were introduced earlier in Chrome 14's development cycle, including a new Javascript rendering engine and beefed up security on HTTPS web pages. One other notable new feature in version 14 is the Web Audio API, which will allow developers to create more realistic sound effects thanks to support for room simulation and spatialization -- various examples have been posted at the Chromium website.

Coinciding with Chrome 14's shift to beta, Google has also released Google Chrome 15 Dev. At the present time, it's primarily a build designed to improve stability and performance, particularly in OS X Lion, although the new Print Preview features also gets an overhaul.

Google Chrome 14 Beta and Google Chrome 15 Dev are available now for Windows, Mac and Linux. As with all pre-release software, think long and hard before updating your existing stable build to either Beta or Dev, and back up your browser settings should you decide to upgrade.

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