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)