Tag Archives: Google Chrome

Chrome For Android Graduates From Beta

With Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and the Nexus 7 tablet, Google announced that it will be replacing the stock Ice Cream Sandwich browser with Chrome. Now, Google has already released a new update for Chrome for Android without the ‘beta’ tag. Yes, Chrome for Android is finally out of beta.

While there is no official change-log available for the update, the new version definitely feels a lot faster than the beta version along with reduced RAM usage on my Galaxy Nexus. Apart from this, I found no other changes in the final version compared to the previous beta version. Chrome for Android can be downloaded for free from the Google Play store.

With Chrome for Android becoming the default browser in Jelly Bean, Google has effectively killed Flash Mobile for Android. Time for web developers to shift to HTML5 based websites now.

Chrome Starts Blocking Extensions, Apps and Greasemonkey Scripts Outside Chrome Store

When Google launched the Store, it was one a good step ahead to provide users with Extensions and apps from a centralized location. However, Chrome still allowed users to install extensions and user scripts from any website making it a little insecure.

Chrome Blocking Extensions

However, it looks like Google is now beefing up on security and disallowing users from installing extensions, apps and user scripts from outside the . Users will now be prompted with a message saying “Extensions, apps and user scripts can only be added from the Chrome Web Store” when they try to install something which is not part of the Chrome Web Store.

While this is a good thing, it means that and Stylish scripts will stop working out of the box now unless a users changes Chrome’s settings or till they are included as a part of the Chrome Web Store.

So will users be able to still install extensions and scripts that are not part of Chrome Web Store? Well, the answer is Yes. Earlier this month, Martin from GHacks had posted about this problem and the potential fix. The fix is listed in a Chrome bug report which says:

You are no longer supposed to be able to install extensions off-store in Chrome. See  bug 55584  for details.

In order to install off-store extensions, the user must download them to a directory and drag them onto chrome://extensions/.

I intend to polish this UI a bit to hide the download bar so that people don’t click on it. I’d also like to add some UI that tells users that extension install is disabled off store or something, but we still haven’t figured out what that will look like.`

The bug referred in the above fix was a feature request which will allow enterprise users to disable users from installing extensions outside the Chrome Store while providing them with an option to whitelist other sources through an admin interface.

So dragging and dropping those extensions and user scripts to the extension page should currently allow you to install those extensions. You can also completely disable this feature by loading Chrome with the “–enable-easy-off-store-extension-install” flag. However, this is not recommended.

*Please note that the blocking currently does not happen in stable builds of Google Chrome.

Chrome Tries to Slim Down by Unloading Inactive Extensions from Memory

Google-ChromeWhen Google released Chrome browser, it promised a bloat-free and light-weight browsing experience. However, over the years, Chrome has put on a fair amount of weight. I still wouldn’t call it bloated, but I have consistently found Chrome to be the most demanding of all the browsers that I use. One of the major contributors to Chrome’s overhead is extensions. Now, Google is trying to do something about it.

Google has announced a new feature called “Event Pages” that will enable extension developers to put their Chrome extensions on a diet. All current generation Chrome extensions continue running in the background, even if they aren’t being actively used. Event Pages will allow developers to create extensions that will automatically be unloaded from the memory, if the user is not interacting with it.

Chrome has always been resource hungry due to its architecture. All plug-ins, extensions, and tabs have their own process. This means that on the whole Chrome require mores CPU cycles and memory than other browsers. Modern day computers do have sufficient memory to handle a browser, even a resource hungry one. Still, it’s still heartening to see Chrome developers trying to keep the extension overhead under control, as Chrome will also have to run on devices like the Chromebook.

This feature is currently available in the Chrome Dev Channel, and will be incorporated in Chrome Beta and Stable channels over the summer.

HP’s WebOS Enyo Team is Joining Google

Earlier this year, HP released the Enyo framework source code as open source software under the Apache 2.0 license. This was done as part of HP’s bigger plan of open sourcing the entire WebOS platform. The WebOS open sourcing effort will reach a closure in August. WebOS was an excellent mobile platform and its UX has been appreciated widely. Popular mobile platforms like Android and Blackberry borrow heavily from it and this open sourcing would have helped HP create a competitive mobile platform. However, HPs plans have been disrupted with some latest development.

hp-webosThe Verge writes in an exclusive report saying that the entire WebOS Enyo team will leave HP to start working at Google shortly. This strikes a serious blow to the future of WebOS. It is not known what the awesome people in the Enyo team will do at Google. One of the best comments on the post was perhaps:

Google buys Palm for zero billion dollars.

Android took a major UX leap with design ideas from Matias Duarte and it showed in Honeycomb. Now, with the entire Enyo team and Matias Duarte under its belt, Android might just rock the mobile segment.

Google can either borrow their mobile expertise for improving the Android user experience, or leverage their HTML5 expertise to create a better ecosystem for Google Chrome and Chrome OS. Looking at the technology stack that the Enyo team worked on, the latter seems more probable. Either way, Google has gotten hold of a golden goose, which will lay golden eggs. What remains to be seen, is which way the eggs roll.

Chrome Surpasses Internet Explorer to Become the World’s Most Popular Web Browser

It’s been over several months since I last used Internet Explorer. Perhaps it could be the same case with you as well. Over the last two years, Internet Explorer has not only lost momentum, but the number of IE users have drastically dropped. Right from the first day of Chrome’s release, it has been a serious threat to the future of Internet Explorer, and today we see the fate of once-upon-a-time popular browser — Internet Explorer, going down the drain.

According to the latest figures from StatCounter, for the first time ever, Google Chrome has become one of the most popular Web browsers worldwide, surpassing Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Chrome has taken an overall lead with 32.76 percent share, while IE has drastically dipped to 31.94 percent.

Chrome Become's World's Most Popular Web Browser

Back in March this year, Chrome had surpassed IE, however, that was just for one single day over the weekend. The browser reached 32.7 percent of the global rankings on March 18. Chrome was pushed back behind, as IE continued to dominate in the market.

Exactly a year back, IE dominated the Web browser market with a 43 percent share, which was followed by Mozilla Firefox with 29 percent share. Chrome, which was picking its pace slowly, was at the third position with just 19 percent share. Today, IE has lost almost 12 percent market share while Google’s Chrome has grown by 13 percent to the dominate IE and Firefox.

StatCounter’s data is based on over 15 billion page views per month (4 billion from the US; 850 million from the UK) to the StatCounter network of more than three million websites. StatCounter’s statistics are prominently considered to be reliable, however, stats shared by NetMarketShare are quite radical and differ widely. NetMarketShare’s stats show that Internet Explorer had 54.09 percent share this month followed by Firefox with 20 percent share, and Chrome placed in the third position with 18.85 percent.

Browser Market Share

It is known that most of Chrome’s traffic share is from Asia and South America, however, IE and Firefox are still dominating in North America and Europe. In India, Chrome has already achieved the number one spot with 8 percent lead over Firefox. On the other hand, IE continues to rule in Japan, China and South Korea with nearly 50 percent of traffic share.

Block Unblocked Websites in FlashBlock Extension for Chrome

I don’t hate Flash like Steve Jobs, but it does slow the browsing experience at times and can get annoying. There are several extensions and tools which allow you to block Flash in browsers like and , but most of the times Flash blocking extensions are heavy on memory usage and can slow down the browser. This is why I  prefer to use a lightweight and versatile called FlashBlock for Google Chrome, which does the job very well without using lot of memory.

Disable Flashblock

One of the problems I have faced with this extension though is the lack of support for whitelisting/blacklisting websites. However, FlashBlock does provide users with an option to do so through a right click option as seen above. The problem is that though it is easy to unblock websites from FlashBlock, there is no easy way to block them again if you want to change your decision.

However, I did find a way to block unblocked sites in FlashBlock extension by using a simple trick. If you are someone who wants to do it, follow the steps given below.

To block a unblocked website in FlashBlock, open the website in question in Google Chrome and then click on the wrench icon and then select “Developer tools” from under the Tools menu. Alternatively, you can also use the shortcut key “Ctrl + Shift + I

Doing the above steps will load the Chrome Developer interface. Now click on the “Resources” tab in the interface and expand the “Local Storage” dropdown. Now look for the exact URL of the website under the Local Storage menu and click on it. This will display the “Key-Value” pair of information stored for the website.

Block Flash Again in FlashBlock

To block the website through FlashBlock again, look for the key “ujs_flashblock” and right click on it and select the “Delete” option from the menu. Once you have deleted the key, reload the website again and Flash will be blocked on it.

Though there are several other Flash blocking extensions which provide with an easier interface to manage whitelists and blacklists, the extension in question is one of the best out there and does not hog resources. Blocking a website again is a little hard, but it is a great tradeoff for performance it provides.

Google Chrome Might Be Coming On iOS Soon

Macquarie Equities Research released a report stating that Google’s Chrome browser might be coming to iOS device. The report does not state when it might arrive on the Apple’s app store, however, it states that  it could be as soon as Q2 of 2012 and if it doesn’t land on the app store by that time, it is definitely arriving by the end of this year.

As much as we would like to see the Chrome browser on iOS devices — iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, Apple doesn’t allow third party browser app to be set as a default app for the device which limits the usability of the app. For example, any links within an email, text messages will open on default browser (Safari) on any iOS devices.

Chrome browser on desktop is highly successful browser with about 18.57% of browser market share falling only slightly behind Mozilla Firefox. Google, also, recently released Chrome Beta for its own mobile operating system, Android. With the release of Chrome on iOS Google also might be able to get away with the huge chunk of money it spends on Apple for Google search on Safari browser. With Chrome browser, all the money that it will earn from the search, Google will be able to keep them with themselves.

However, we do not think Chrome for iOS will make it big for a simple reason that Apple does not allow third party apps to be set as default browser.

 

Make Chrome Canary the Default Browser on Windows/Mac

has several versions of their browser which includes the stable version, beta version and development version. However, users can only run one instance of them at any given time. Google does provide another cutting-edge version called the Canary build. The Canary build is a nightly build and contains untested code and features which will be introduced in other version of Chrome at a later stage.

Chrome Canary Default Browser

I prefer to use Google Canary builds because they usually contain cutting edge technologies and newer features which are not yet available in other versions and gives me a chance to test them out. However, the one thing I have had a problem with the Canary version is that Google does not allow you to set it as the default browser.

The explanation they give for it is that it is a secondary installation of Chrome and cannot be set as the default browser. Well, that is a problem for me because some times the dev version (which I also used) was buggier than the Canary version and was not updated as frequently to address the reported bugs.

So I decided to find a way to set the Google Chrome Canary version as default and found a neat registry hack at this forum. All you have to do is download a simple registry file listed in the forum post and edit it to replace your username in the Registry.reg file. Once you have done that just double click and click on the “Yes” button when prompted to add the entries to your registry.

After you have inserted the registry entry, Chrome Canary will be set as your default browser. If you are looking to reverse that, just head to control panel and change the default application or use your browsers’ preference to set it back as the default browser. The forum in question requires you to register before you download the file as an alternative, you can download the file directly from here.

For Mac users all you need to do is run Safari and then head to preferences and change the “Default web browser” to Canary from the dropdown menu. You can visit this site to find visual instructions for doing that.

Will Microsoft Face the Ire of Antitrust Regulators for Windows 8?

As you must have heard by now, Mozilla is furious. The non-profit organization behind Firefox is angry because Microsoft is practically making it impossible to develop third party browsers for Windows 8 for ARM through artificially imposed restrictions. A short while back, even Google backed Mozilla and expressed its concern about Windows 8 restricting “user choice and innovation”. My colleague Paul Paliath has already weighed in on the debate. While he believes Mozilla’s complaint is baseless, I am not quite so sure.

Windows-8-Platform

Before proceeding any further, let’s delve a little deeper into the technicalities involved. With Windows 8, Microsoft is introducing an entirely new class of applications. These applications will run in Metro mode, and will be built using the WinRT API. The Windows applications that we are accustomed with are all built using the Win32 API. Now, Microsoft isn’t exactly killing the Win32 API. Windows 8 for x86 (desktops) will continue to offer a classic mode, which will be capable of running all Win32 applications. However, if an app wants to run in Metro mode it has to use the new WinRT API. The trouble is that in an attempt to make WinRT power efficient, fast, and secure Microsoft ended up making it way too restrictive. Due to this, several classes of modern applications can’t be developed by leveraging WinRT alone. In order to skirt around this significant roadblock, Microsoft created a third category of applications. This category of applications have a frontend developed using WinRT, but they can also leverage the power of the Win32 API. In other words, they look like Metro apps, but offer the power and flexibility of a traditional Windows app. Unfortunately, on ARM devices, the only apps which will be allowed to leverage both WinRT and Win32 APIs are apps from Microsoft. Paul is right in saying that Microsoft isn’t specifically targeting browsers. In one fell swoop Microsoft has put all third party apps at a significant disadvantage. Whether it be office suites, media players, or browsers – all apps will have a hard time matching products from the Redmond giant as they will practically be running on two different operating systems. To make matters worse, Windows 8 for ARM won’t allow third party apps to run as pure classic apps either. Asa Dotzler explained the trouble faced by browser developers quite succinctly.

Microsoft has made it clear that the third category won’t exist on Windows for ARM (unless you’re Microsoft) and that neither will the first category (unless you’re Microsoft.) That means that IE on ARM has access to win32 APIs — even when it’s running in Metro mode, but no other Metro browser has that same access. Without that access, no other browser has a prayer of being competitive with IE.

You might be wondering exactly what kind of restrictions does WinRT impose that makes it impossible to develop a competent browser. Here’s an example – WinRT doesn’t allow translation of code at runtime. This is something absolutely critical for a technique called JIT (Just-in-time compilation). You might have heard of JIT before, as over the past few years, all browsers have been using JIT to deliver astounding improvements in JavaScript rendering speed. Lack of JIT will instantly push a browser back by several years. Keep in mind that this is just one example. Modern browsers are pushing the limits of what is possible within a browser. With the restrictive sandbox offered by WinRT, many of the bleeding edge features offered by modern browsers can’t be implemented in WinRT.

Mozilla has already issued thinly veiled threats of legal action, and considering that Windows 8 is pretty much done, the threat of another anti-trust ruling is the only thing that can realistically make Microsoft change its mind. However, is Microsoft really abusing its monopolistic position to crush competition? The answer is trickier than you might think.

New Google Chrome Beta Gets Tab Syncing Across Devices

One of the coolest features of Chrome for Android is its ability to sync tabs with its desktop counterpart. You can start researching a topic on your desktop, leave for work, and continue researching from your phone while in the subway. Now, Google is taking this feature to its logical next level. The latest Google Chrome beta supports tab syncing across multiple operating systems and devices.

Google-Chrome-Tab-Sync

The new beta makes all of your tabs from one system available on all other systems. You can simply click on the “Other devices” link in the “New Tab” page to access open tabs from any system on which you are logged in with your Google account. This feature was first spotted in the bleeding-edge versions of Chrome (including the Dev Channel, Canary, and recent Chromium snapshot builds) by Geek.com. Now, Google will be gradually rolling out the “Other devices” menu to Beta channel users over the coming week. If you want to take tab syncing for a spin, download the latest Chrome beta from here.

Firefox 11 Arrives with Add-on Sync, Google Chrome Migration and a Look at What 2012 Holds for Firefox

Today, Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 11, the next version of the popular web browser. The new version brings in quite a lot of new features for end users and web developers alike.

For the end user, Firefox 11 introduces add-on sync. Add-on sync uses Firefox’s built-in sync feature to ensure that all your Firefox installations are in sync with the installed Firefox add-ons, in addition to the bookmarks, open tabs, history and passwords.

Firefox sync

Add-on sync has been a much-requested feature and personally, I’ve been resisting from moving away from Chrome to Firefox for the sole reason that sync is such a seamless and painless experience in Chrome, as compared to Firefox. Another feature Mozilla’s brought in, no doubt targeting Chrome users, is the the ability to import browsing data – including Cookies, Bookmarks and Browsing History from Chrome. Till this release, such an import was possible only from Internet Explorer.

Firefox Importing Google Chrome Data

 

For web developers, Firefox 11 brings in a new Style Editor allowing for on-the-fly-editing of stylesheets. The Style Editor features a two-pane UI, with the file listing on the left and the plain-text editor on the right. The plain-text editor also features syntax highlighting to make it easier.

Firefox 11 also features a new 3D vizualization of the webpage’s DOM tree. Initially introduced as an add-on called Tilt, the 3d visualizer makes use of WebGL to build a multi-layer representation of the webapge’s DOM tree. While it looks gimmicky, it might help few people who’ve been trying to analyze and fix the annoying layout bugs.

Firefox Tilt

For Enterprise users, Mozilla will backport security fixes in the current version of Firefox to a separate point patch, as part of Mozilla’s Extended Support Release proposal.

What’s in the future?

The current version of Firefox brings in preliminary support for SPDY, Google’s alternative for the HTTP protocol. Future releases will undoubtedly improve upon SPDY support. Upcoming releases of Firefox will make addon compatibility less of a hassle. Previously, add-on authors would have to manually update their add-ons when a new version of Firefox was released. Mozilla’s proposal to move to a rapid release schedule caused a lot of anguish to developers and end users alike. Going forward, Mozilla will make all-ons compatible with Firefox 4 and higher, automatically enabled.

Firefox 13 is expected to bring in silent updates – all updates will be automatically & silently downloaded in background and will not be interrupted if the browser is shutdown.

From the Gecko platform point of view, Mozilla will bring in support for a whole lot of new web technologies, including

  • WebRTC for real time audio & video conferencing
  • Web Sockets will be completed to match the W3C specs. Incidentally, Mozilla has dropped prefixes for Websockets starting from this release of Firefox
  • SPDY, HTTP Pipe lining and HTTP Pre-connections
  • DASH and WebM support
  • Support for key input in fullscreen mode
  • Possible support for H.264 & MP3 decoding using codecs present on the OS

Download links

Firefox should automatically update your Firefox to the newest version soon. You can also download the latest version from Mozilla’s website.

Microsoft Allots Special Status to Web Browsers in Windows 8, Google Confirms Metro Version of Chrome is Under Development

Microsoft, which has been making a lot of noise about the “no-compromise” development mantra of Windows 8, has been forced to make another compromise. Realizing that the new WinRT APIs are too restrictive for modern web browsers, Microsoft has created a special application class for web browsers.

nullWinRT or Windows Runtime is the new programming model that Metro apps will be using. WinRT applications can be developed using Visual C#, C++ etc. as well as web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. WinRT is a sandboxed API that is more secure and power efficient than the classical Win32 API. The expectation is that WinRT will go a long way towards solving Windows’ malware problem. Unfortunately, Microsoft has already been forced to make compromises for the sake of practicality.

Windows Phone, which has received widespread critical acclaim, has had a very visible influence on Windows 8. Unfortunately, not everything that works in a smartphone is conducive to a desktop OS. The restrictive nature of Windows Phone has deterred developers such as Opera from supporting the platform. No one made a big fuss about it since Microsoft has a fairly small smartphone market share. However, if Windows 8 were to do the same thing, anti-trust proceedings would be all but certain. Moreover, Microsoft itself executes Internet Explorer Metro with elevated privileges.

The solution proposed by Microsoft is far from ideal, but compromises never are. The Metro version of a browser will be dependent on the classical version. Hence, a user will have to download and install the browser through a classical installer package. This means that third party web browsers won’t be available in the Windows Store. This is a fairly significant limitation, since ARM devices will only support the new Metro interface, and sideloading of apps will be disabled. Another restriction is that only the browser that the user sets as default will be able to run in the new Metro mode.

Firefox had already confirmed that it intends to release a Metro-fied edition. Now, a Google rep has informed Mashable that Chrome for Windows 8 is also under development. “Our goal is to be able to offer our users a speedy, simple, secure Chrome experience across all platforms, which includes both the desktop and Metro versions of Windows 8,” the rep said. “To that end we’re in the process of building a Metro version of Chrome along with improving desktop Chrome in Windows 8 such as adding enhanced touch support.”

Google Chrome Finally Hacked

After managing to remain unscathed for four consecutive years, Google Chrome has finally been breached, and Google is rewarding the hacker with $60,000. Google Chrome’s security features were bypassed successfully by hackers in both Pwn2Own and Pwnium.

Google-Chrome-PwnedPwn2Own is an annual hacking fest sponsored by HP, which challenges hackers to breach fully patched web browsers and operating systems. Google Chrome was the only browser that couldn’t be hacked for the past four years. This year, it was the first to fall. A team from the French security firm VUPEN, lead by its co-founder and head of research Chaouki Bekrar, managed to take complete control of a fully patched 64-bit Windows 7 (SP1) machine within five minutes by using two zero-day exploits. VUPEN also claims to have zero-day exploits for Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari.

This year, Google is also running its own competition called Pwnium, which has a total bounty of $1 million. Google decided against sponsoring Pwn2Own, since its new rules don’t compel hackers to responsibly disclose vulnerabilities to the software developer. VUPEN itself intends on selling the exploits to its clients. Sergey Glazunov, a Russian university student, managed to bypass Google Chrome’s sandbox feature in Pwnium.

The breaches mean that Google will no longer be able to tout its clean record. However, Chrome developers aren’t mourning. While announcing the contest, Chris Evans and Justin Schuh from Chrome’s security team had explained that they have a big learning opportunity when they receive full end-to-end exploits. “Not only can we fix the bugs, but by studying the vulnerability and exploit techniques we can enhance our mitigations, automated testing, and sandboxing”.

Adobe Partners with Google Chrome for Flash Player on Linux

Adobe Flash creates an extra layer of content on top of the open web. No wonder it is loathed by all open web enthusiasts. It is full of security vulnerabilities, requiring patches after every few days. However, there are some things it does really well (think flash video). With the advent of HTML 5, all the reasons to use Adobe Flash are dying fast, and Adobe can sense it too.
flash-player-logo

In its roadmap for Flash runtimes, Adobe made it clear that it is not going to develop Flash for Linux anymore. Flash Player will not be available for a direct download from Adobe. Instead, Adobe is relying on Google Chrome to release Adobe Flash bundled with their browser product.

Adobe has been working closely with Google to develop a single, modern API for hosting plug-ins within the browser. The PPAPI, code-named “Pepper”, aims to provide a layer between the plug-in and browser that abstracts away differences between browser and operating system implementations. You can find more information on the Pepper API at http://code.google.com/p/ppapi/.

Google Chrome already runs Adobe Flash in a sandbox, and the Pepper API will allow it to go cross-platform with its plugin support. Moreover, the Pepper API will provide Flash for both x86 and x64 installations, although Adobe killed Flash for x64 Linux desktops back in June 2010.

Google Chrome will start including the peppered Flash Player later this year. The canonical version of the code for Pepper API has already been moved to the Chromium subversion repository. However, with the size of the Google Chrome bundle already being an issue, I wonder how bloating it further will help anyone.

Smooth Scrolling Comes to Google Chrome in Chrome 19

has seen tremendous growth since it was released 2 years ago. It has competed with browsers like and Internet Explorer by adding new features which have drawn users towards it. However, one of the most requested feature that has been missing in Google Chrome has been smooth scrolling.

Google Chrome Logo

Smooth Scrolling allows users to browse webpages in a single flow without continuous jumps in the display. The lack of this feature made scrolling in Chrome a bad experience if not worse. However, the wait for Smooth Scrolling might be over in a few months because Google has now included the Smooth Scrolling feature in the development version of Google Chrome (v19.0.1041.0 dev-m).

With the introduction of this feature, scrolling in Chrome has become less jumpy and maintains a single flow when you are scrolling from top to bottom or vice versa. The feature might be rolled out with the stable version of Google Chrome in near future, so you might have to wait a month or two before you can start using it.

If you are using the dev version, you will have to enable the Smooth Scroll feature in about:flags before you can use it. Head over to about:flags and enable "Smooth Scrolling". This feature is available for Windows, Linux and Chrome OS only so Mac OS X users won’t be able to use it yet.