Google is preparing to add a new type of hardware awareness to the Chrome browser. The browser will soon be able to use accelerometer data to keep track of which way is up, and rotate the interface. Thus Google gets one step closer to making the browser an operating system.
It's not just fitting content to device orientation that can be of use here. Web-based apps and games could also poll the accelerometer as a method of control. Mozilla started to work on this in 2009, and expects to roll it out in Firefox 3.6.
Google is spending heavily on their browser software, which will be the underlying framework of the upcoming Chrome OS. Are there any other uses of orientation awareness in browsers you'd like to see implemented?
“Now that Chrome OS & WebGL are in good shape, it's time for something new. I'm going to work @ Facebook! Love the product and team. Woot!” Matthew Papakipos, Google's director of engineering, tweeted Monday. His departure adds to the growing list of Google employees stolen by Facebook. Papakipos is the man who created and led the Chrome OS and the Chrome GPU hardware projects.
The internet behemoth is counting on its bench strength to ensure that Papakipos' expertise are not missed during the few months leading up to the launch of its operating system. “Matt made great contributions to Google and Chrome OS, and we know he’ll do the same in his next endeavors. We wish him the best. We have a deep bench of talent and are very excited about the launch of Chrome OS devices later this year,” a Google spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Besides Papakipos, Facebook has made another addition to its star-studded team in the form of Jocelyn Goldfein, former VP and GM of VMware's desktop business unit.
The initial buzz surrounding Chrome OS became a bit watered down the moment Google bared its cloud- and Linux-based operating system to peering eyes at a special event last November. Skeptics have been wondering whether the world is prepared for a cloud-based operating system. Leave aside the question of humanity's preparedness, doubts have also been cast on the product itself, with some doubters even writing it off as being little more than a glorified web browser.
But PC vendors can not ignore Chrome no matter what the skeptics have to say, for a bad bet might be better than no bet at all. According to a Reuters report, quoting a top Dell executive, the PC vendor is not going to be a mere spectator when Chrome OS debuts in the “late fall.” Amit Midha, Dell's president for Greater China and South Asia, has revealed that his company is currently discussing shipping Chrome OS netbooks with Google. Midha told Reuters that Dell wants to be at the vanguard of innovation.
Google has just unveiled a new feature of their popular video sharing site, YouTube. The YouTube Editor will allow users to perform some rudimentary video editing entirely online. It's not going to challenge desktop software in the feature department, but it will serve the needs of many people.
Users will be able to trim any video in their collection, as well as combine multiple clips into a longer one. The files are saved instantly, as Google already has them on their servers. You may not have access to more advanced features, but it brings some new options to a less tech-savvy crowd.
There is no way to edit other's videos for obvious copyright reasons, but wouldn't be surprised to see video sharing features added later. This feels to us like another feature destined for integration with Google's upcoming Chrome OS cloud connected platform. Have a look at the service here, and let us know what you think.
Conservatives and personal computing aficionados are still not convinced that the world is ready to move to cloud-enabled operating systems like Google's Chrome OS. Their skepticism is not simply borne out of their reluctance to accept change, though. Many of their arguments against the possibility of such cloud-based endeavors tasting success in the immediate future are perfectly tenable.
But it would be wrong to think that Google is betting on cloud computing in hope of immediate gains. It is probably concentrating on issues that it can sort out while waiting for others not in its control (including poor broadband penetration globally and privacy concerns) to sort themselves out over time.
For instance, many people have been wondering whether Chrome's early adopters will be able to abandon critical applications and features associated with traditional computing, especially if their web-based replacements simply turn out to be poor imitations. But Google does have a solution: “Chromoting.”
Chromoting is the internal name for Chrome OS's ability to run legacy PC apps from within the browser. The Google engineer who revealed it to the world likened Chromoting to Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection tool.
"We're adding new capabilities all the time. With this functionality (unofficially named 'chromoting'), Chrome OS will not only be [a] great platform for running modern web apps, but will also enable you to access legacy PC applications right within the browser,”Google software engineer Gary Kačmarčík said in a message.
Today's Google I/O presentation offered a bit of a surprise in the form of a Chrome web app store. The store will be available for both the Chrome browser and Chrome OS whenever it is released. This really helps put the pieces together as far as Chrome OS goes. As it was before, the Chrome OS experience was looking a little too spartan.
Many of the apps we saw at I/O today are familiar names. There is a version of Tweetdeck, an attractive Sports Illustrated app, and (of course) Plants vs Zombies. Many of these apps are reminiscent of iPad apps with embedded video and crisp graphics. When the store launches there will be both free and paid apps.
According to Google, the Chrome web store will be pushed out on the Chrome dev channel "soon". We're still not sold on the idea of making an app store for web apps, but we'll reserve final judgment until we can use it. Do you think a well designed web app is worth paying for?
There has been plenty of speculation about Acer being the first to release a netbook built around Google's Chrome OS platform, but contrary to earlier reports, there will be no such device today, tomorrow, or any time soon, it appears.
"Despite recent rumors in the press regarding the launch of Chrome OS based netbooks at Computex, Acer today confirms that it has no plans for such a product," Acer said in a statement. "Acer believes that Google Chrome OS is without a doubt an exciting product announcement and deserves its full attention as well as an in-depth study of its potential from a consumer's perspective."
Acer went on to say that it will be "following the development and progress of Google Chrome and the evolution of Google's overall product strategy very closely," but didn't offer any other details. So in other words, it looks like Acer is having serious second thoughts about a netbook built almost entirely on a cloud computing platform and perhaps wants to gauge how consumers react to competitors' upcoming Chrome OS products.
According to reports, Acer will beat the competition to the punch with a netbook built around Google's upcoming Chrome OS platform. If all goes to plan, Acer will show the netbook off at the Computex Taipei show that runs from June 1 through 5.
Acer hasn't confirmed or denied the reports, although the company previously stated it would be one of the first hardware makers to push a Chrome OS device out the door. In case you haven't been following, Google's Chrome OS, which was announced last year, is entirely browser based and features near-instant bootup with a heavy emphasis on cloud-based applications.
While Acer will likely be first, it won't be the only company with a Chrome OS netbook in the coming months. Samsung Australia said earlier this year that it will launch a Chrome-based netbook before the end of 2010, and both Asus and Lenovo are expected to have hardware available as well.
Google's cloud-based Chrome OS is scheduled for a year-end release, with the first devices based on the platform slated to arrive early next year. The fact that it will be rooted in the cloud should restrict its use to casual computing devices like netbooks and tablets. But what will Chrome devices cost?
Well, according to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, about as much as any reasonably priced netbook currently on the market. He said at the Atmosphere Cloud Computing forum that Chrome devices should cost anywhere between $300-400, while making it clear Google will have no say in setting the price of such products.
"Those prices are completely determined, by the way, by the costs of the glass, the costs of the processor and things like that, but in our case Chrome OS and Android are free so there is no software tax associated with all of this,” he said.
In the not too distant future, you'll start to see netbooks running Google's Chrome OS. How popular the OS turns out to be remains to be seen, but one thing's for sure - Google appears to be taking a pretty serious approach to system security.
According to Will Drewry, a Google software security engineer, all of the Google Netbook products will ship with the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) installed to ensure security in key storage and multi-factor authentication. This in addition to the "trusted bootpath."
By keeping Chrome OS open source, Drewry said it allows for constant feedback from developers about its security design. He also referred to Chrome as a "hardened" OS, pointing out the auto-updating and sandbox features, both of which are intended to keep malware at bay.
Will Chrome OS live up to the hype? We'll find out soon enough, as the first Google Netbook is expected to ship later this year.