If you’re reading this, you’ve probably at least tried using Google Chrome, and in all likelihood you probably liked it.  If you want a sneak peak at a few mind-blowing new Chrome features before those suckers using stable releases get the chance, then you’ve come to the right place.  

Step 1: Subscribe to the Dev Channel

One of the neat things about Chrome is that it updates itself in the background, so that you always have the latest version.  By subscribing to the dev channel, you’re essentially skipping a few versions ahead, where Google is testing out a few features that may or may not ultimately make the cut for a stable release.  Be sure to read through the warnings on the channel page before you subscribe; I haven’t personally had any issues, but just understand that your Chrome experience may be a little buggier than you’re used to.  

Step 2: Enable Some Experiments

After reinstalling Chrome, enter “about:flags” in your address/search bar to bring up the experiments page. These are always changing, but as of the time of this post, the good ones to check out are Chrome Instant, Tab Overview (Mac only), and Side Tabs (Windows Only).  

Chrome instant is a revelation.  Chrome has always been great about predicting URL’s as they type them. For example, I only have type “rea” and press enter to get to Google Reader. Chrome instant, which I can only imagine will start popping up in stable releases before too long, basically takes Google’s new instant search feature, and combines it with your browser’s predictive ability.  As a result, Chrome doesn’t just predict URL’s and search terms as you type them, it actually loads pages for you without even pressing enter.  It’s not like it’s a huge time saver, but it’s a neat effect and definitely worth checking out.

Tab Overview is basically OS X’s incredible Expose window management system, ported to the browser.  A downward, three-finger trackpad swipe elegantly displays all of your tabs in an attractive grid for easy switching.  Google talks a lot about how the browser is replacing the operating system, and a window management system like this makes that vision seem far more real to me than great web apps alone.  

Side Tabs, tragically a Windows-only feature for the time being, moves your tabs from the top of the window to a surprisingly nice looking sidebar list.  This is great if you’re using a widescreen monitor with a maximized browser window, and is much easier to navigate lots of pages than the perpetually-shrinking standard tabs that we struggle to read.

What do you think of Chrome’s experiments? Have any other favorites? Let us know in the comments.