I am not a fan of Google’s default ‘New Tab’ page in Chrome. The search bar is fairly useful and all, Google’s flat logo looks nice and the small Speedial-esque thumbnails are handy to quickly launch websites I frequently need to visit, but everything else about it has always been quite inutile. Previously, we’ve covered a truckload of extensions for Chrome that improve on the new tab by replacing the default new tab with a custom design usually carrying features that aim to improve upon stock functionality. Helium is a similar way of packing the new tab of Chrome with information that can relate to your daily internet usage. Not only does it show you time, date and current weather info, but painless access to bookmarks and Reddit feed can also prove really useful.
Here’s how Helium looks when installed. Its simple, barebones interface is perfect for anyone who doesn’t like clutter . The subtle gray background is easy on the eyes, and you won’t see any obtrusive page elements.
The top section of the extension comprises of weather forecast, date and time, as well as a multilingual greeting messages widget that shuffles between English, Russian, Spanish, German and other supported languages. Helium automatically detects your current location and presents accurate weather data in both Fahrenheit or Centigrade (you can select the unit under Settings).
The bottom two widgets are Bookmarks and Reddit. The Bookmarks widget presents a list of bookmarks that you add to Helium’s bookmark folder (the extension automatically creates this folder on the bookmarks bar when installed). Whenever you add a link to that folder, it shows up automatically within the widget itself. This means you have a separate folder for those bookmarks with a dedicated bookmarks manager to accompany it.
The second widget, Reddit, is pretty much self-explanatory – it lets you view Reddit posts that are popular on the site at that time. By default, the widget shows posts from all subreddits, but you can also enter a specific sub-reddit and the extension will filter the results for you. Custom sub-reddit can be specified in Settings section which also lets you select default temperature unit of weather widget.
Overall, Helium is a dead simple extension for Chrome that can replace the new tab page without sacrificing too much functionality. You do end up saying good bye to the speed dial and that’s the only downside of this extension. It’s available free at the Google Chrome Web Store.