Chrome 6 will have PDF viewing built in

Not content to build Flash into Chrome, Google now intends to make Adobe Reader an unnecessary download, as well. The company says the latest developer version of Chrome features an embedded PDF reader, which can be enabled from the chrome://plugins page.

Bypassing Adobe's Reader plug-in has several advantages, in Google's view:

  • PDF files will render as seamlessly as HTML web pages, and basic interactions will be no different than the same interactions with web pages (for example, zooming and searching will work as users expect). PDF rendering quality is still a work in progress, and we will improve it substantially before releasing it to the beta and stable channels.
  • To further protect users, PDF functionality will be contained within the security "sandbox" Chrome uses for web page rendering.
  • Users will automatically receive the latest version of Chrome's PDF support; they won't have to worry about manually updating any plug-ins or programs.

There's a caveat right now, however: "we do not support 100% of the advanced PDF features found in Adobe Reader," the company says. Google adds that it wants to work with the Adobe Reader developers on bringing full PDF support via its next-gen browser plug-in interface.

Building Flash into the browser is one thing; coding up an embedded PDF reader seems like a much grander project, one that might bring more users into the Chrome fold. After all, who hasn't watched their browser bog down or even crash because of the Adobe Reader plug-in? A quick, responsive, and easy-to-use PDF viewing alternative could go a long way.

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