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Google currently splits its Chrome releases into three "channels," the stable, beta and developer channels, each with its own version of the browser. The developer channel first hit the Chrome 5 mark in February, while the latest stable channel release is the Chrome 4 release.
In addition to the V8 improvements, Chrome 5.0.375.29 Beta is the first Chrome beta to directly integrate the Adobe Flash Player Plugin as part of the browser. With every other browser vendor, Flash is a plugin that users need to load on their own, but Google is taking a different route.
"You’ll automatically receive security and feature updates for Flash Player with Chrome's auto-update mechanism," Mads Ager, a software engineer at Google, wrote in a blog post.
Security researchers have reported in the past that Flash represents a risk to Web users, who are rarely diligent about regularly updating the software to avoid the latest security vulnerabilities. That issue could potentially be resolved by Google's auto-update, which operates in the background to update the version of Chrome on a user's desktop. A Google-sponsored study in 2009, found that Chrome users were more likely to have a fully updated browser ahead of users with Microsoft Internet Explorer, Apple Safari or Mozilla Firefox.
Google is also expanding the synchronization capabilities of Chrome in the new beta release. Chrome has had bookmark-syncing capabilitiessince August 2009. Starting with Chrome 5.0.375.29 Beta, users can now also synchronize browser preferences, such as startup settings and themes as well.