If you like Google Chrome, there is a different flavor you can try. Its name is Chrome Canary, and it is a bleeding edge, experimental version of Chrome, with the latest features. Let's see the differences between Chrome Canary and Chrome, along with the Dev and Beta channels, and find out which one will better suit our needs.
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Table of Contents
The Chrome release channels
Since its introduction in September 2008, Google Chrome has gone through at least 58 major versions, as of this writing.
Every new version has some minor or major changes, and we will often find new features.
The question is, how can Google be sure that a new feature won't completely break the latest version of Chrome?
The reason is that every new feature goes through multiple channels, and tested thoroughly before ending up in the final, "stable" version of Google Chrome.
Chromium Continuous Builds
This is where it all starts. The latest Chromium build is where every new Chrome feature makes its début. These builds are "working" in a very loose definition of the word, full of untreated bugs and instabilities.
According to Google, one must be absolutely crazy to use one of these builds.
If, however, you 're feeling wacky, you can visit https://download-chromium.appspot.com/, where you can find a Chromium just a few hours old.
Clicking the "Download Chromium" button will download a compressed zip file.
This is a portable version of the browser, which we can run without a full installation. After extracting the archive, we just run the "Chrome" Application. This will not affect our main Chrome installation in any way.
On Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, Windows Defender will object. We click the "More info" text and then "Run anyway."
For all this trouble, we get the latest version of Chromium, currently two major versions above the stable Google Chrome.
It doesn't even have the built-in flash player and the PDF reader we will find on Chrome.
We should also mention that those chromium builds don't auto-update. If we want the latest version, we have to download and install it manually.
Chrome Canary is the most bleeding edge version of Chrome, and one step before Chromium. It is also easier to install since we will find it at:
If we want the latest and greatest Chrome updates and features, albeit completely untested, Chrome Canary is the way to go.
The great thing about Chrome Canary is that it installs at a different profile than Google Chrome. This way, if it breaks down, there is no danger for our stable browser.
Currently Canary is just a smidge behind the Chromium version, at 3104 instead of 3105.
There is a new Canary Build every day, as soon as it is built, and it will auto-update for us.
It also features the Flash player and PDF reader.
Why call it Chrome Canary?
Have you ever heard of the "canary in a coal mine"? It was a warning system for miners, to detect dangerous concentrations of carbon monoxide before it affected them.
Because of their small size, rapid breath rate, and high metabolism, the canaries would be the first to succumb from carbon monoxide poisoning. This would warn the miners that they should get out of there, as soon as possible.
This "early warning system" aspect was what gave Chrome Canary its name.
If a feature had bugs that would "kill" Chrome Canary, the Chrome developers would work on it until it is good enough for the more stable Chrome Channels.
Chrome Dev Channel
The Chrome Dev Channel offers the Chrome builds that get tested before the release. The channel gets new versions once or twice a week, and it has the features on which Chrome developers are working right now, ironing out any bugs.
Of course, there will be some bugs. And since Chrome Dev uses the same Chrome profile, once we install it, it completely replaces the stable Chrome.
This is a significant commitment, given that on Chrome Dev isn't 100% stable.
Chrome Beta Channel
Chrome Beta is a step up from Chrome Canary and Chrome Dev, and a step down from Google Chrome, as far as stability goes.
It's the safest way to see what's next in Chrome, without entering bleeding edge territory.
It's updated every week, with major updates every six weeks, and it gets new features more than a month before the stable channel.
As with Chrome Dev, Chrome Beta will overtake Chrome upon installation, but it is much safer to do so.
Chrome Stable Channel
This is the Chrome we all know. Plain, vanilla, stable, perhaps even boring Chrome.
It doesn't offer much of an adventure, but it won't crash and burn as we are filling in a complicated form, forcing us to redo it from scratch. And that is all that matters.
Chrome Canary vs. Chrome - Which will you choose?
Will you trade the browser's stability for a bunch of new features on the side? Or do you believe that slow and steady wins the race? Leave us a comment if you are willing to try Chrome Canary, or you find stable Chrome good enough.
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