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updated 5/22/2012 10:48:17 AM ET 2012-05-22T14:48:17

Google Chrome this week inched past Internet Explorer to become the world's most popular Web browser, according to StatCounter, a Web analytics firm.

Chrome still lags in the U.S., however, where 24 percent of people use Chrome compared with nearly 38 percent who use the Microsoft alternative (Firefox trails both browsers in the U.S. and worldwide). Yet, Chrome is the only browser that has been steadily gaining in the U.S. over the past four years.

What makes Google's browser so popular? Speed, security, minimalist design and an extensive store with apps and free plugins have won over users.

Here are five of our favorite features:

1) In-browser apps. Chrome is the only browser that can run actual applications, as a smartphone or tablet can, reducing the number of programs on your desktop. Currently, the most popular apps are YouTube, Gmail and "Angry Birds." To view the Web store, and the apps you already have, simply open a new window or tab and click the "Apps" link at the bottom center of the page. 

2. A single text-entry box. Chrome's omnibar allows you to type either a search term or a URL in the same box. Google's prediction feature automatically suggests what it thinks you're looking for as you are typing — based on your history and on popular searches.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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