Tag Archives: Internet Browsers

Mozilla Drops Features From Firefox 4 To Meet Release Deadline

In order to meet the October/November release deadline for Firefox 4, Mozilla has decided to axe some of the new features. The first casualty is the Account Manager feature.

Firefox-4-Beta

In Mozilla’s Dan Mills’ words, The Account Manager makes it incredibly easy for users to create new accounts with optional randomly generated passwords, and log into and out of them with just a click”. We had previewed an early prototype back in March and had found it to be capable of dramatically simplifying how users connect to websites.

Mozilla is aiming for a feature freeze by September 10. If Firefox 4 continues to fall behind schedule, then more features might be stripped. The prime candidates for removal are silent updates on Windows, Inspector and Web Console. However, even without some of these features, Firefox 4 will have enough to excite fans. The new version will introduce a brand new skin, tab candy, revamped add-ons manager and more.

Voice Translation Now Available in Chrome 7

Pack the bags … I’m heading up to Quebec for summer vacation. Now that there’s a web browser that can translate my English to French, I’m ready to ask for directions, locate the nearest restroom or order food at a restaurant. All it takes is my netbook, the developer’s version of Google Chrome web browser and a trip to this website.

english-to-french

Click on the little microphone icon. When it turns red, you can start talking to it. Click the microphone once again and it interprets your speech, then it speaks the same sentence in French. Amazing!

I found out about this today at the ChromeSource blog. Last week, I remember asking people what was new in Chrome 7, because I didn’t see much difference. Now I know that in addition to the support for Chrome Web Apps, Google coders have added the ability to talk to the web browser. Although that’s not really new, since   Opera’s had voice abilities for quite some time now, it’s new to me, and I’m excited about the possible new uses for something like this. Maybe in a few months, I’ll be able to talk to Gmail and have it type the email for me?


If you have your own tips on using Chrome, or it’s problems, be sure to comment below or email me.


Hardware Accelerated Browsing Experience: Chrome 7 vs. Firefox 4 vs. Internet Explorer 9

GPU accelerated browsing experience is the big new feature that all the major browsers are gunning for. The latest builds of Firefox, Chrome, Safari as well as Internet Explorer have this feature enabled. In fact, Opera is the only major browser without hardware acceleration support. Nevertheless, even Opera has hinted that this is something they definitely intend on doing. I won’t be surprised if we soon see a weekly build with hardware accelerated Vega (Opera’s graphics rendering engine).

In the meantime, Sebastian Anthony from DownloadSquad has recreated his earlier Aquarium test to compare the rendering performance of all the three hardware accelerated browsers. Here is the video:

Not surprisingly, Chrome came out on top. Internet Explorer also performed quite well. However, Firefox turned out to be 30% slower. Nevertheless, the bleeding edge speed offered by Chrome came at a cost. It was the most system resource intensive browser. In fact, system resources consumed turned out to have a direct correlation with the rendering speed. The question is, what is more important? Are you willing to opt for a heavier browser, if it provides more speed? Don’t forget to share your opinion with us.

Google Chrome Gets Speech Recognition and Labs

It’s no secret that Google sees the browser as a central part of future computing devices. The Chrome OS is just one of the many manifestations of this particular vision of the future. In Chrome OS, the browser (Google Chrome) is used to do everything from listening to music to editing documents and creating spreadsheets.

While Chrome OS based devices are still a few months away, Google is working hard to get its browser ready for various form factors. Just yesterday, we reported that future versions of Chrome will future GPU Acceleration that will enable it to do heavy duty computing (like scaling videos) with ease. Now DownloadSquad has discovered that speech recognition has been enabled in the latest Chromium builds. Of course, Chrome isn’t the first browser to get voice recognition. Opera received voice navigation support as far back as 2005 with Opera 8. However, this feature works only on Opera for Windows, and since its initial release there has been very little further improvement.

Google has also uncorked a few other handy features in Chrome, including support for device orientation and Google Labs. The former is an essential feature for netbooks, tablets and other accelerometer enabled devices. The latter on the other hand will enable curious users to get a taste of the latest features being cooked up by Google. To access it simply type about:labs in the omnibar (address bar). For now, Windows users can enjoy tabs on the left, while Mac users can play around with Google’s implementation of Tab Expose.

Google-Chrome-Labs

Image via GoogleSystem

What are Chrome Web Apps?

chrome We recently told you that the developers of Google’s Chrome web browser have released version 7 of Chrome. In order to use it, you have to be running the dev channel version of Chrome or the new Canary build of Chrome. One of the interesting new features in Chrome 7, is support for Chrome web apps, which will be available in the Chrome Web Store in October.

The question I’m raising today is What are these Chrome web apps?. An answer at Wikipedia was useful, but as I expected, it’s full of techno-jargon that immediately makes me skip through most of the article. I’ll save you the trouble of trying to sift through the jargon. In most cases, a web app isn’t any different than many existing pages on the internet. Any time you visit Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, Google Docs, or even Youtube, you are using a web app. A web app is a web page that performs a specific job or set of jobs using your web browser. Usually web apps require that you download files and data that they need to function. Chrome extensions also have the same requirement and they offer you the ability to change the way pages look or add tools and services to existing pages.

So what’s the big deal? Why are they even called web apps instead of extensions? My best guess is that they are doing this to make it easier to market (sell) these downloads. However, even though web apps aren’t much different from Chrome extensions, there are a couple of differences.

One big difference is that you’ll only find most of them in the Chrome Web Store. Some of those web apps will be free, but most of them will likely cost you a few dollars. Google will make money on them and so will the people who create them.

Another difference is that the tab for a running web app looks different from a normal tab. Here’s a screen shot to show that. The tab on far left is a Gmail web app. It’s a single icon with no text. Next to it is a normal tab showing Gmail.

chrome-web-app

You’ll also be able to see all of your installed web apps on the Chrome New tabpage.

chrome-web-app-new-tab

I love the fact that only the icon is showing on web app tabs. That’s great for those of us who have lots of tabs open in the browser. Other than that, what is there to like about web apps rather than extensions? At this point, I don’t think that there’s much to like unless you like paying out money. It’s a great deal for Google and the web app developers. It’s not a great deal for the average surfer.

If you’d like to play around with Chrome’s new web apps, DownloadSquad has a page telling you how to install web apps. I’m not going to be using them much unless they are free.


If you have tips or opinions about Chrome web apps, be sure to comment below or email me.


Download Fennec Alpha for Android 2.0+ (and N900)

Finally, after quite a long time, Firefox’s mobile version Fennec is available for download for phones running the Android OS version 2.0 or higher and the Nokia N900 Maemo phone. Fennec is still in its Alpha stage and is far from rock-solid and stable. Development is slow, but it promises to deliver seamless web experience between your desktop and mobile. It includes the Firefox Sync addon and increased performance due to two major technologies that were implemented in the current iteration called Electrolysisand Layers.

fennec_logo

Electrolysis is a technology that allows the Fennec interface to run as a separate process from the web renderer, improving stability and increasing usability. Fennec can thus react faster to user input instead of being bogged down by a large page that is being downloaded. The Beta version of Fennec will start taking advantage of Layers to greatly improve performance in graphic intensive actions like scrolling, zooming, animations and video.

You can download Fennec from the Mozilla site. Don’t forget to read the release notes. Do remember that this is an Alpha build and might not be stable or fast. Fennec Alpha currently runs on Android 2.0 or higher, or the Nokia N900.

Opera: More and More Females are Participating in the Mobile Web

Opera-State-of-the-Mobile-Web Yesterday, Opera Software published the July edition of their monthly State of the Mobile Web report. This month’s report takes a closer look at gender equality (or inequality) and mobile web usage in Southeast Asia.

In just two years, the percentage of female mobile web users has increased by an impressive 575%. South Africa has the highest percentage of female mobile web users (43.5%), followed by United States (35.6%), Russia (32.4%) and the United Kingdom (31.5%). Sadly, India finds itself right at the bottom of the list with just 4% female users. Nigeria (5.4%), China (11.6%) and Vietnam (17.9%) are other countries with very few female users.

Opera also asked its users if they had friends they have never met away from the keyboard. An overwhelming majority answered yes. The highest proportion of affirmative answers came from users in Nigeria (87.3%) and Indonesia (83.7%). Respondents in United Kingdom (64.6%) and United States (65.6%) provided the fewest “yes” responses.

In July, Opera Mini was used by 62.3 million users, a 4.8% increase from June 2010. Opera Mini, which had been growing explosively until early 2010, is still the most popular mobile web browser in the world. However, it’s growth has virtually stagnated over the past few months.

Google Chrome Dev Build Gets Integrated Flash Blocker

dev version has been updated to  6.0.490.1 and this version now has out-of-the-box Apps support and also adds a new feature called Click-to-play which is similar to a Flash blocker and can be used to block content served by browser plugins like Flash, Shockwave etc.

Google Chrome dev build users (and future stable users), here is some good news for you. The latest dev build of Google Chrome now includes an integrated Plugin blocker in the form of Click-to-play, which can block Flash content and content served by other plugins used by Google Chrome.

Click-to-play is a really welcome feature since it will allow you to control what content is shown in the browser and block content on a plugin to plugin basis. To enable the Click-to-play feature in Google Chrome, just add the "–enable-click-to-play" command line switch to the Chrome shortcut.

Once you do that, you will be able to block plugin content by visiting "Options -> Under the Hood" and clicking on the "Content Settings" button.

Disable Plugins in Chrome

Once you do that, click on the "Plug-ins" tab and select the radio button next to "Do not allow any site to use plug-ins" and save the settings. You can also disable individual plug-ins by clicking on the link. The plugin page is also accessible via chrome://plugins/.

Chrome Flash Blocked / Chrome Plugin Content Blocked

Once you save the settings all plugin related content will be blocked, however, you can view or run the plugin content by clicking on the Run plug-in this time placeholder link.

The latest dev build has also enabled Out-of-the-box Apps support for Google Chrome. Users who upgraded to this version will now see apps above the most visited website on opening a new tab. There were also other bug fixes which you can view here.

Google Chrome 6.0.490.1 has been released for Windows, Mac and Linux based PCs.

Firefox 4.0 Beta 3 Introduces Touch Support

Mozilla has just released the third beta release of Firefox 4.0. As discussed in our earlier posts, Firefox 4.0 is a major stepup for the popular open source browser. It introduces a host of new features like WebM video support and improved Windows 7 integration, besides featuring a completely revamped skin.

Firefox

The latest beta adds touch support on Windows 7. This is a big deal as Windows 7 is expected to be used in several upcoming tablet devices. Firefox 4 now supports multi-touch gestures, which can also be leveraged by touchscreen optimised web applications.

It’s an open secret that Firefox has been struggling to keep up with the likes of Opera and Chrome, when it comes to rendering speed. In fact, even Internet Explorer 9 performs significantly better than Firefox in artificial JavaScript rendering benchmarks. Beta 3 includes a a new way of representing values in JavaScript that should make number crunching more efficient.

[ Download Firefox 4.0 Beta 3 for Windows, Mac and Linux]

Canary Build of Chrome Web Browser Has Geeks Singing

chrome-canary-cartoon [Windows] For those of you who surf the breaking wave of browser technology, there’s a new option. Google has added the Canary build of the Chrome web browser, which runs the latest developer builds. In addition, it installs alongside your regular Chrome browser and doesn’t share it’s settings, cookies and extensions. Unfortunately, it’s only available in Windows at this time.

chrome-browser

chrome-canary-ico

You won’t see a big difference in the new Canary build, except for the fact that you’ll have the latest features, such as Extension Sync and JumpLists. You will see a new icon for the program and it’s shortcuts. It is a brilliant canary yellow, as shown here.

Previously, there were three options for installing Google’s Chrome web browser. You were only able to run one of these at a time.

The ability to run Canary with another copy of Chrome already installed is very helpful to some of us. For example, I know someone who is already running three different web browsers on her PC. That let’s her simultaneously log in as three different peeps in YoVille. For most geeks, having a stable copy of your browser, in addition to the Dev version is a matter of playing it safe. If the new version breaks or gets funky, you’ll always have the stable version.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

Awesome. I use Chrome as my default browser and this additional build is a must have for me, since I like to write about new features. If you want to experience the latest and greatest features, it’s an easy new option for you.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Top 5 Favorite Chrome Extensions

chrome-extesions-ico I’ve seen lots of other people do this. Now it’s my turn. Below are my top 5 favorite extensions for the Google Chrome web browser, in no particular order.

after-the-deadline 1. After the Deadline

With a name like that, it’s surprising that anyone uses it. It doesn’t give you any clue as to what it really does. Here’s a quote from the gallery:

After the Deadline uses artificial intelligence to check spelling, style, and grammar. Use it to check your tweets, find mistakes in your email, and socialize with confidence. Click the ABC icon in the lower-right corner of an editable area to proofread your writing.

chromed-bird

2. Chromed Bird

Ok, another unusual name. If you use Twitter, this is very handy. I haven’t used many of the features, but you might. Quote from the gallery:

Chromed Bird is an awesome Twitter client extension for Google Chrome with lots of features.

Some of the most important features are:
* Add and remove timeline tabs “on the fly” using the new right-click context menu
* Create custom search queries that will update automatically
* Preview image links by hovering them
* See all your tweets in an unified timeline
* Follow your timelines, @mentions, lists, DMs and favorites
* Compose, reply, RT, share, favorite and delete tweets
* Create short URLs within the extension
* Preview shortened URLs before clicking them
* Track read / unread tweets
* Notify user whenever new tweets arrive

cooliris

3. Cooliris

Another name that doesn’t mean much, but has to be seen to be believed. This awesome extension brings 3D image browsing into your browser. Here’s a quote and a video to follow:

Meet Cooliris, the 3D Wall that speeds up search on Google Images, YouTube, Flickr, and more. Enjoy the richest way to view photos from Facebook, Picasa, and even your own computer. On our infinite 3D Wall, you can effortlessly scroll though thousands of images and videos in seconds without having to click from page to page.

Click here if you can’t see the video.

facebook

4. Facebook for Google Chrome

Finally a clearly named extension. Yes, it’s an extension that lets you very quickly view, post and comment on your Facebook pages. I have come to depend on it. Here’s a quote from the gallery:

This unofficial extension lets you check your Facebook news feed, wall, inbox and notifications.

Version 2.0 will now indicate when you have new notifications or unread messages. Additionally, the extension now uses Facebook Connect as a more reliable way to retrieve your information. Also, the extension now supports English, Spanish and French.

gtalk

5. Google Talk Gadget

If you have Gmail, you are very likely also using the G-Chat that’s built in. This extension allows you to pop it out into it’s own little window. It simply works great. Here’s a quote:

This is a very simple extension that allows to use Google Talk Gadget with Google Apps.
Please note that the chat session will not run in the background unless you click the ‘pop out’ link in the top left corner.

That’s all for now. I hope you see something here that you haven’t seen before. Be sure to comment below and tell us about your favorite Chrome extensions.


Dell KACE Secure Browser: Firefox with Sandboxing

In a surprising move, Dell has launched its own web browser. Even though the browser market is already fiercely competitive, its obvious that a lot of people still believe that there is still room for niche browsers. The new browser, which is called Dell KACE Secure Browser, is based on Firefox.

Secure-BrowserThe standout feature of Secure Browser is sandboxing. It utilizes KACE’s Virtual Kontainer to provide a secure browsing environment. In other words, the browser runs in its own separate compartment which is completely insulated from the rest of the system. As a result, even if you pick up malwares while browsing, your system won’t get infected. As far as the virtual environment is concerned, you can clean it up by simply using the reset functionality.

The Secure Browser is probably the bulkiest browser in the market. The installer itself takes up more than seventy megabytes! Even more annoyingly, the Secure Browser can’t be installed if you don’t uninstall Firefox. It’s hard to imagine too many people adopting this browser. However, that probably doesn’t matter to Dell. In all likelihood, we will soon see Secure Browser being preinstalled on Dell systems powered by Windows.

[ Download Dell KACE Secure Browser ]

Mozilla Fixes 14 Security Issues with Firefox 3.6.7

Firefox Next week, the Black Hat Security Conference is scheduled to take place at Las Vegas. Undoubtedly, hackers attending the event are getting ready with their proof of concepts and exploits. In fact, one security analyst is already making the headlines for discovering security holes in Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari.

In the run up to the event, Mozilla is doing its best to keep hackers at bay by patching up as many vulnerabilities as possible. Yesterday, they released Firefox 3.6.7, which is a recommended stability and security update. This release patches 8 critical vulnerabilities including some that could allow remote arbitrary code execution.

The full change log along with information about each of the fixed vulnerabilities is available here. Earlier this month, Google had also patched as many as 10 vulnerabilities in a Chrome security update.

[ Download Firefox 3.6.7 ]

Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome Leak Sensitive User Information to Websites

Black-Hat-Conference Most of us don’t think twice before saving sensitive information in our browser’s auto-fill database. After all, browsers are desktop applications that reside on our system. So, any data we store in our browser should remain private, right? Wrong.

Jeremiah Grossman, CTO of White Hat Security, has managed to uncover security holes in each of the major browsers that can be exploited by booby trapped websites to gain access to sensitive information.

“Right at the moment a Safari user visits a website, even if they’ve never been there before or entered any personal information, a malicious website can uncover their first name, last name, work place, city, state, and email address”, revealed Grossman in a blog post. According to the proof of concept demonstrated by him, it is possible to fool Safari (v4 and v5) into giving up stored form auto-fill information without user intervention using JavaScript. Apple, which was notified about this vulnerability back in June, has yet to respond.

Internet Explorer 6 and 7 can also be exploited in a similar fashion. However, Internet Explorer 8 appears to be safe for the moment. If you are using the any of the affected browsers, it’s highly recommended that you disable the in-built AutoFill functionality for the time being.

The Register is also reporting that Grossman has discovered critical XSS (cross-site scripting) vulnerabilities in Firefox and Chrome, which can be exploited to gain access to stored website passwords. Grossman is expected to reveal more at the Black Hat Security Conference, which is going to be held next week.

Install Epic Browser In Ubuntu With Wine

If you read Techie Buzz regularly, the Epic web browser will need no introduction. It has gotten  a great review from Pallab and I was curious about it. I decided to try it out, but unfortunately there is no Linux version available; not even the source was available (I don’t know if it is open source or not.)  If you want to try out Epic, but are restricted to Ubuntu for whatever reason, read on.

First, download Epic for Windows. You can go to the website and download it or if you like console, here is the command: (I  recommend  the console.)

cd ~
wget http://http.cdnlayer.com/href/epic-setup.exe

We are going to use Wine to run it in Ubuntu. The latest version of Wine is Wine 1.2, but the stable version is not available in the PPA yet. However, Wine 1.2 RC 7 is already available. I have been using it and it is quite stable. So add the Ubuntu Wine PPA, ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa, and install Wine.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wine

After you have installed Wine, to install Epic, execute the commands below:

Note: Change the argument of cd to the appropriate download location if you downloaded it from the browser.

cd ~
wine epic-setup.exe

You will get the installation options. Finish the installation as you would if you were in Windows.

After the installation is finished, you will find Epic under  Applications ->  Wine ->  Programs ->  Epic.

Epic runs very well under Wine. I have been using it for almost one day and have not encountered any problem while using it. Being based on Firefox, it is a bit slow for my liking. Another complaint that I have is the background pictures – they are very distracting. Otherwise, it is a fine browser and those used to Firefox should have no problem using it under Wine in Ubuntu.