Within the next two weeks, Google will release a new development version of Google Chrome that will include the ability to sync bookmarks between different computers. As Tim Steele, a software engineer on the Chrome team explained in a message to the Chrome developer group, the synchronization will be managed through a Google account. Changes in one install will be reflected in another Chrome instance in real time thanks to the Chrome team's use of the Google Talk servers as the messaging backend for this service.

For now, Google will only sync bookmarks. In the long run, the Chrome team also plans to sync other data types, including browser history. In the announcement, the Chrome team did not specify if passwords will be synced as well.

With Weave, Mozilla Labs currently offers a very similar feature, though Weave hasn't made it into the default install of Firefox yet. In the past, Google also offered a synchronization plugin for Firefox, but the company discontinued this service in December 2008.

Link to Chrome OS?

Of course, we can't help but wonder if this work isn't also being done in preparation for the upcoming release of the Google Chrome OS. A lot of the work to get Chrome to sync between different instances is being done at the backend. If Google could get its netbook OS to seamlessly sync with applications on the desktop, then that would be yet another selling point for the Chrome OS.

Privacy?

Chances are that you are already storing your search history on Google's servers. With Chrome's synchronization feature, however, you would also store a complete record of all of your comings and going on other parts of the Internet on Google's servers. Mozilla Weave encrypts your data before it is synced with Mozilla's servers. In today's announcement, the Chrome team did not talk about encryption, though we would be surprised if Google didn't implement client-side encryption as well.

For some users, though, giving even more information to Google - even if it is encrypted - may turn out to be a deal breaker.

Get the Dev Channel Release (if you dare)

For now, only users who have installed Chrome's developer version and are subscribed to the Dev channel will see these new features. The Chrome Dev channel is the most frequently updated, cutting-edge version of Chrome, but these version are also far less stable than those in the more mainstream Beta and Stable channels. If you would like to switch to the Dev channel, instructions for installing this version of Chrome can be found here.