For early adopters and the technologically curious, waiting for the next version of a product can be trying. For those of you running Google’s open-source browser Chrome, there has been the Dev channel, where new in-development releases of the browser are offered with bug fixes and new features on a nearly weekly basis. Users who use Dev channel releases get to see the newest features first, but also get to help developers by testing and reporting bugs.

Now, Google has said that “sometimes […] even a week is too long to wait to get feedback from the field on a change” and it will begin offering an even more on-the-edge build to its users – the “Canary Build”.

According to Henry Bridge, product manager for Google Chrome, the Chrome developer team wanted more feedback, but increasing the pace of releases and cutting out manual testing would “result in a Dev channel that’s too unstable even for early adopters and developers.” While the developer team has “embraced the ‘launch early and often’ strategy,” it appears this wasn’t often enough. Thus, the “Canary Build” was born.

That’s why, a few days ago, we released a new experimental version of Google Chrome called Google Chrome Canary Build. We plan to update the Canary Build more frequently than the Dev channel, with riskier changes, and usually without a human being ever verifying that it works, so the Canary Build is only for users who want to help test Google Chrome and are comfortable using a highly unstable browser that will often break entirely. 

The name of the build refers to the old practice of miners to bring a canary into a coal mine. If poisonous gasses were present, the canary would die before it would kill the miners, acting as an alarm system. That might give you some idea on just how unstable this build channel is expected to be.

The Google Chrome Canary Build is currently only available for Windows and cannot be set as the default browser. Because it is expected to be so unstable, the team has made it possible to install the Canary build simultaneously to other channel versions of Chrome, including Dev, Beta and Stable.