In light of Google’s frantic browser release cycle, fresh versions of Chrome aren’t always terribly noteworthy. According to the latest update on the Google Chrome blog, though, the new Chrome 17 beta does have a couple of neat new features that improve security and browsing performance.
Most notably, Google says it has souped up its Safe Browsing technology to check downloaded files for malware:
To help protect you against malicious downloads, Chrome now includes expanded functionality to analyze executable files (such as “.exe” and “.msi” files) that you download. If a file you download is known to be bad, or is hosted on a website that hosts a relatively high percentage of malicious downloads, Chrome will warn you that the file appears to be malicious and that you should discard it. We’re starting small with this initial Beta release, but we’ll be ramping up coverage for more and more malicious files in the coming months.
On top of that, the Chrome 17 beta introduces a new pre-loading scheme. If you enter a URL in the address bar, and it autocompletes to a site you’re "very likely to visit," Chrome will begin pre-loading the page in the background before you hit enter.
Chrome 17 is available on the beta channel right now; I’d expect the stable version to be out either late this month or early in February. There’s usually a six- to seven-week gap between stable releases, and Chrome 16 hit the stable channel about three weeks ago.