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Google has posted the first public Beta of Chrome 12 in the run-up to its I/O conference which opens tomorrow in the USA. The finished product is expected to go live in June.Available to test for Linux, Macs, and Windows PCs, the new version now automatically checks download types and issues a warning if it suspects the file is a trojan or other malware. Its investigation goes beyond basic filters like file types and uses the same mechanism Google does to screen websites on its search page.

The build is also a rare instance of Google withdrawing a feature. Google Gears’ plugin has been pulled from Chrome. Support for offline apps in HTML5 has mostly rendered Gears obsolete, the company said.

More conspicuous changes include full 3D-accelerated CSS code to allow extra visual effects and better screen reader support, including Apple’s VoiceOver on Macs. A concession to privacy now lets users clear out Flash’s Local Shared Objects data from Chrome’s settings. Earlier versions of Chrome and most other browsers otherwise have to go to a rarely used website to purge LSO data.

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