Get the Latest Browser Features By Using "Channels"

Get the Latest Browser Features By Using "Channels"

Laura E. Hall
May 4, 2011

We've seen that using the right browser can improve your battery life, and shown you the pros and cons of storing passwords in your browser. Now, thanks to Lifehacker, we can show you how to get the absolute most recent "bleeding-edge" versions of browser favorites Chrome, Firefox and Opera without sacrificing usability.

Did you know that at any given time, there are three working versions of Chrome, Firefox and Opera available for download?

We didn't! These three versions are called "channels", and they're releases that are developed separately from one another in order to test out compatibility, new features and extensions.

Also, each of these channels are separate installations of the browser that run independently of one another and have their own sets of automatic updates.

What does that mean for you? It means getting features and extensions (like the StayFocused Chrome Extension) before anyone else, or knowing which browser to switch to for better productivity or computer performance. Pretty cool!

How It Works
The "standard" downloads for Firefox, Chrome and Opera are considered the "stable" channel. They're the official releases and everything works without a hassle, but they don't have the latest available features.

The next step up is the "beta" channel, which is used to test out new stuff on a larger audience before they're introduced into the standard download. This is a good way to play around with features well in advance of their official release, and it's generally pretty stable -- Mozilla stated that they don't even want users to be able to tell that they're running a beta version of the product.

(See for yourself by grabbing the beta releases of Chrome, Opera or Firefox.)

Then, there's the "dev" channel, a testing ground for people who are developing extensions so that they can test for compatibility and performance. These versions have alternate names: Firefox is known as Aurora, and Opera is Opera Next.

There's even an additional channel, which is updated every day to include developers' work from the day before; this is the least stable of the four options, but if you really want to know the latest and greatest upcoming features, this is the way to go.

Read the original article over at Lifehacker to learn more about this cool element of our favorite browsers.

Would you or do you use an additional browser just to get a sneak peak of the latest, greatest features? What's your favorite browser in general? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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