Chrome and Chromium: What are the differences?

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Not only do they sound similar, they are similar – yet there are differences between Chrome and Chromium that can easily lead to misunderstandings.

Microsoft will use Chromium as a substructure for its Edge browser in the future. But what does that have to do with Google Chrome – and what exactly is Chromium? We at Worth of Tech explain the differences.

Chrome and chromium – isn’t it the same?

Nope. Chromium is an open source browser for Windows, Linux, macOS and Android, which is not intended for end users, but only for developers. There is no installer, only the source code and semi-official builds. Web developers who want to test the latest Chromium features should rather use the developer or “Canary” version of Chrome, Google advises.

Google Chrome is mostly chromium (except for the iOS version), but adds a few components to it, including an auto-updater, audio and video codecs, plug-ins for Flash and DRM-protected content, and Google logos. Chrome itself is not open source.

Is Chromium a Google Project?

Chromium was started in 2008 by Google, whose staff still contribute most of the code and control the project. But not everything comes from Google: So far, nearly 50 companies and 1000 individual developers have contributed to it. Among the most prominent contributors are Opera, Vivaldi, Yandex, BlackBerry, Facebook, Spotify, Akamai, ARM, HP, IBM, LG, Nvidia – and even Mozilla. Many of the individually listed developers can be assigned to Samsung, Amazon and Intel.

And what’s Blink?

Blink is Chromium’s rendering engine – the core of the browser that interprets and displays the website source code. It split off from WebKit in 2013, more precisely from its component WebCore; the other half of WebKit, the JavaScript interpreter JavaScriptCore, replaced Chromium from the beginning with its own development V8.

WebKit started in 2001 as the basis for Apple’s browser Safari and goes back to the Linux KDE project KHTML (since 1998). Safari and Chrome have a common code base for the web standards, but have been developing separately for years.

Which browsers use Chromium?

Chromium is so widespread not only because of the success of Google Chrome, but because it is now found in most browsers. One reason for this is that Chromium, thanks to the Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF), can relatively easily become the basis for a proprietary development.

The best known Chromium browsers after Chrome are Opera, Vivaldi and Brave, followed by Yandex Browser, Iridium, Iron and Torch. Soon Microsoft Edge for Windows will join them. In addition, almost every Android browser is based on Chromium, among them some very popular worldwide: UC Browser, Samsung Internet, Edge for Android or Amazon Silk as well as the old Android browser replaced by Chrome. Chromium is also found in application frameworks like Electron or Qt.

After the imminent end of Microsoft’s own browser engine, only a few browsers independent of Chromium will be left. Essentially these are Firefox, Safari, all browsers for iOS that have to use Apple’s WebView component, and some exotic browsers like Epiphany, Midori or Tor Browser.

How do chromium-based browsers differ from each other?

In terms of interface and features, the Chromium browsers are independent of each other and cannot be recognized as such; they differ greatly from each other. Even when rendering content, there are sometimes differences. Most of these differences can be traced back to manufacturers who lag behind with the integration of the current Chromium version or only distribute updates sporadically. In addition, the manufacturers compile with different settings or add their own code.

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