What are Different Chrome Versions and Release Channels?
Google Chrome is currently the most widely used web browser among internet users worldwide. The browser is fast, secure and has a simple user interface alongside other built-in smart features. Moreover, the Chrome browser works on a range of platforms including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS and Android. This makes it possible to browse using Google Chrome on any device such as a personal computer, smartphone, tablets and many other internet-enabled devices.
Google Chrome Development Process
Since its introduction in 2008, Chrome browser has undergone several upgrades as Google engineers strive to fix bugs and add extra features. These continuous updates result in new versions of Chrome and several builds of the version in-between. Every new version comes with minor or major changes, often there are new features as well as bug fixes. To roll out these updates to the users through a multiple release channels system, each of these release channels represents separate stages in the development system. This enables Google developers to slowly roll out new features and updates to users without breaking the latest working version of the browser.
Different Chrome Release Channels
Google Chrome supports four release channels namely: stable, Beta, Dev and Canary channel. Each of these channels provides different Chrome builds ranging from the most stable and tested version to the untested and probably the most unstable build. Users can run all the four channels in parallels on Windows, Linux and Android devices. This capability allows web developers to test new codes on different Chrome versions, and adjust the code to accommodate upcoming changes.
1. Chrome Stable Channel
Through this channel, Google development engineers releases the stable Chrome version after full testing. Generally, most users are familiar with the stable Chrome version sent through this channel. The stable channel is updated every three weeks for the minor releases, and every 6 weeks for the major releases. Though not as adventurous, the stable Chrome is the safest and free from crashing, thanks to the extensive testing in other release channels.
- To get the stable Chrome version, visit Google Chrome Download Page and click the “Download Chrome” link.
- Click “Accept and Install” to accept the terms of service and start downloading the installer on your PC.
- Once the download is complete, run the installer and follow the screen plug and play instructions. Learn more on how to install Chrome on Windows and Mac.
The stable version will auto update whenever you connect to the internet. This will help to keep the browser safe and protect you from latest threats.
2. Chrome Beta Channel
This is the final testing stage for updates before being rolled out to the wider audience on the Stable release channels. The Chrome Beta version is mostly stable but may have a few minor bugs, which are fixed at this development stage. This release channel gets weekly updates (for minor releases) and every six weeks (for major releases). Moreover, the Beta channel receives updates more than a month earlier than the stable channel, providing the safest way to experience upcoming Chrome features. In other words, the Beta version enables preview features in development and give feedback for improvements without taking too much risk.
- To get the Chrome Beta version, visit the Chrome Beta download page.
- Select an option depending on your platform. For Windows, you can select either the 32-bit or 64-bit option.
- Click the “Download Chrome Beta” button and accept the terms of service on the resulting pop-up screen.
3. Chrome Dev Channel
The Chrome Dev channel releases Chrome version used by Google developers to test major changes to Google Chrome browser. Some of the updates in this channel may not make it to the Stable or Beta channels. The Chrome Dev versions are more prone to errors, crashes and compatibility issues, as well as many bugs waiting to be fixed.
This channel receives updates once or twice every week and much of the features are work in progress. However, the Dev version is useful for web developers to see what the Chrome team is working on without long breaks between the builds.
- You can download the Dev version on Chrome Dev Channel Page.
- Select an option based on your system platform and click the download click for the Chrome Dev version.
- Accept the terms and after downloading run the installer to install the Chrome version on your PC.
4. Chrome Canary Channel
Deriving its name from the famous ‘canary in a coal mine’ the channel releases Chrome version with the latest features and updates, though completely untested. The channel is used to identify bugs that could crash the more stable versions of the browser for the Google developers to fix. The Canary channel is updated automatically by Google servers whenever there is a new Chrome development code (roughly on a daily basis).
- To install the Canary version, go to the Canary download page and select an option for your platform.
- Click the download link and accept the Google terms of service to start the download.
- Run the installer and follow the screen instruction to complete the installation.
This nightly bleeding edge canary version is the most unstable Chrome version. You may find functionalities on web applications may break on the Canary version. Also, you can find new functionalities that Google is currently testing for feasibility to implement on stable version later. For example, the Canary version 75 has an option for basic and enhanced spelling checks on Mac version under languages section.
The Canary version also has a customize button on the new tab instead of a gear icon on the stable version. So, you can expect these changes in the stable version soon if the testing is successful.
Chromium Browser and Experimental Features
In addition to the above release channels, Google also maintains the open source Chromium browser. Google Chrome is a modified version of the base Chromium. you can learn more about the difference between Chrome Vs. Chromium in our earlier article.
You can also try the experimental features on your stable Chrome version using chrome://flags settings page.
Chrome developers use a 4-channel release system to roll out new features to users. The stable channel releasing the most stable and fully tested version, while the canary channel releases newly developed versions. These different versions give users an opportunity to explore new features before they are released for general use. However, the purpose of these versions, as named, are for development and testing purposes. Always ensure to use the stable version for normal use like browsing and financial transactions.