While it can be difficult to reconcile yourself with the reprehensible acts of violence that gadgets are being subjected to these days by eyeball-desperate Youtubers, there are times when such antics leave behind a lot more than just hugely popular videos and the fragmented remains of these devices. A case in point is the pulverization of the maiden Chrome OS device, the Google Cr-48, by the guys over at Will it Blend? -- a blender-happy outfit that likes to grind to pulp or dust pretty much everything they can lay their hands on.
Upon receiving their Cr-48 from Google, they asked themselves the question that drives their very existence: “Will it blend?” The Cr-48 was quickly squeezed into one of their trusted blenders and reduced to smoking dust in a few seconds.
In the video, the blender operator expresses happiness over the fact that his information is still secure in the cloud. But he leaves us with a thought provoking question: “I wonder where the cloud is?” I believe this is one question that a lot of us have been asking ourselves, haven’t we?
With Microsoft releasing the first Internet Explorer (IE) 9 beta yesterday, the spotlight is squarely on Internet Explorer. Hardware acceleration is among the several advancements that IE 9 boasts over its predecessors. It is something that Google's Chrome does not currently have. Thankfully for Chrome users, they will not have to wait too long for hardware-accelerated graphics to show up in their favorite browser.
The latest Chromium “trunk” and Chrome “canary” builds already feature some of the relevant enhancements. Hardware acceleration will be part of the next major release of the browser, Chrome 7, which is just round the corner.
“2D canvas acceleration is now available in trunk and the canary build by using the --enable-accelerated-2d-canvas command-line switch (coming to the developer channel shortly).We’ve also been hard at work improving our 3D graphics stack,” Google said in a recent blog post.
According to James Robinson, a software engineer at Google, “Chromium already achieves some impressive gains on the recent IE9 Platform Preview Test Drive 2D canvas demo,” with initial results suggesting up to 60x speed improvement over previous Chrome versions.
The UI changes are the most noticeable to users. The color scheme has been made more metallic, and less blue. The stop/refresh button has been removed from the end of the address bar, and given its own spot at the left of the interface. The options have been condensed to one button as well. These changes make more space for extension icons.
Users of the Chrome and Firefox 3.6 browsers got a nice treat today courtesy of Google. Gmail in those browsers now supports drag and drop file attachments. Instead of using the attachment link to bring up a file explorer window, you can just drag files into the Gmail interface and have them uploaded automatically. The feature works with multiple file uploads and requires no tinkering with settings.
Dragging a file (or files) anywhere in the Gmail window will bring up a special box in the area usually reserved for attachments. Simply drop the file(s) anywhere in that box to upload. Google hinted in their blog post that the feature was only being enabled in Firefox 3.6 and Chrome due to a some missing features in other browsers. Perhaps some sort of HTML5 support?
We really dig this feature, and hope that Google adds more UI elements that are this intuitive. Is this the sort of feature you'll use? Anything you've really been hoping Gmail would implement?
Ever since its release, Google has tagged Chrome installs with a unique ID. The search giant is now reportedly abandoning that practice. Future versions of the browser will still install with a unique ID that will be used to check for the first automatic update. After that task is complete, the ID will be deleted.
It has always been Google’s position that the client ID was only used to determine when users update, and in the event of a crash (but only if crash reporting is turned on). Some privacy advocates have long held that the unique identifier could lessen browser privacy. However, no one has ever been able to show that to be the case.
As Chrome continues to gain market share, Google appears to be tweaking it to keep it palatable to users. There is a certain amount of Google fatigue out there, and if privacy concerns become too pervasive, Google could lose public trust. Even though there was no confirmed privacy breach caused by this feature, does its removal make you feel more comfortable using Chrome?
It’s interesting to watch product development in the raw. Google’s Chrome is just a basic browser. But the underlying technology allows for so much more. Once Google gets Chrome stable it pushes Chrome forward, opening up new features that make it more useful--all of which we get to watch in real-time. Two new features, which appear in the newest stable Windows version of Chrome, are extensions and bookmark synchronization.
Extensions aren’t really new, for Chrome or any other browser. But, Google has moved them out of their beta stage and into the release version. Extensions add versatility to Chrome, allowing easy access to favorite web applications, or streamline common online tasks, such as getting directions or browsing photos. Google says there are now over 1,500 extensions available, ranging from AdThwart to Chromed Bird (for Twitter) to Google Mail Checker.
Bookmark synchronization isn’t a new concept either, but a free version is. Google has built in the option for those with Google accounts. Each computer you use can be set up for near instantaneous syncing of bookmarks, regardless of which computer a bookmark is created on. It’s a simple matter of turning on the sync bookmark preference and letting the “magic” happen.
Not on Windows? Google says that extensions for Linux are in enabled on the beta channel. Mac users, however, are going to have to cool their heels--Google is still working to implement them in the Mac beta.
While being number three in the browser wars is akin to fighting over table scraps, Google is probably happy at the news that Chrome’s combined platform use has pushed it ahead of Safari, by a whole 0.03 percentage points. (“We’re number 3! We’re number 3!”) Chrome’s elevation in status was reported by Net Applications, which tracks the browser habits of 160 million unique monthly visitors to the 40,000 sites it monitors. The results are for the month of November.
Let’s first put things into context: Internet Explorer (IE), in all its glory, dominates the browser market with a market share of 63.6%, and Firefox a distant second at 24.7%. That leaves 11.7% for everyone else. Chrome now owns a 4.4% share, closely followed by Safari at 4.37%. There are some who might argue otherwise, but does it really matter who fills out the remaining 2.93%?
Chrome’s bump up into third place comes on the heels of the introduction of betas for Mac OS and Linux--basically moving Chrome into two new market niches. Collectively, this added 0.4 percentage points to Google’s total: from 4.0% of market share in October to 4.4% in November. On a percentage basis that’s not an insignificant increase, but in the overall scheme of things it doesn’t seem all that much. Still, “We’re number 3!”
Chrome doesn’t appear to be posed to threaten the dominate browsers in these new markets anytime soon. Chrome’s share of the Mac OS market went from 0.32% to 1.3%--Safari seems safe for now. And on Linux Chrome went from a 3.81% share to a 6.34% share--and safe too is Firefox.
Vince Vizzaccaro, an executive vice president of Net Applications doesn’t see Chrome threatening the OS hegemony of IE or Safari, but does suspect that Chrome might one day give Firefox a run for its money on Linux: “With the emergence of Chrome, I'll be curious to see if Chrome will be to Firefox on Linux what Firefox is to IE on Windows...a forceful competitor.”
Google has released a new Chrome extension at Google Campfire One. Bruce Johnson, Engineering Director, wrote on the Google blog about a cool new developer tool unveiled at the development gathering.
The new extension dubbed “Speed Tracer” is aimed at web developers and helps to optimize performance of web applications. The Speed Tracer application features many useful metrics for developers to identify performance issues within a particular application. Of note, it features a “sluggishness graph” that shows developers a quick and dirty overview of how the application performs and where it should be streamlined.
Brian Rakowski, the Google Chrome product manager, dishes out the details on the Official Google Blog. The Google Chrome betas for Mac and Linux, he says, were engineered to meet the demanding expectations of both platforms. Mac users, he says, will be impressed with the almost instantaneous launch time--so fast “there’s hardly even time for the icon in the dock to bounce!” The Mac version integrates with Mac features, such as the Keyhain, spell check, and SandBox for enhanced security.
For the Linux beta, Google remained faithful to the open source community, with more than 50 contributors contibuting to Chrome's foundation, Chromium. Google Chrome for Linux fits natively with the operating system where possible, including integration of native GTK themes, and updates managed by the standard system package manager.
Google, according to Rakowski, is all too aware that a browser without extensibility just isn’t a browser. But, at the same time, Google didn’t want to jeopardize Google Chrome’s speed and stability. Extensions, according to Rakowski, accomplishes these objectives. Extensions, says Rakowski, “are as easy to create as web pages, easy to install, and each extension runs in its own process to avoid crashing or significantly slowing down the browser.” Rakowski says there are more than 300 extensions now ready for use, but only for Windows and Linux boxes.
Google's Chrome OS press conference gave us plenty to discuss on this week's No BS Podcast. We give you a recap of what juicy nuggets were revealed, and explain why Windows won't be replaced by Chrome any time soon. We also talk about benchmarking a dual-Radeon 5970 system, comparing it to a tri-SLI GTX 285 machine that we reviewed a few months ago. Finally, we answer some listener questions and Gordon breaks not one, but four NDAs to tell us about a super secret product.
Do you have a tech question? A comment? A tale of technological triumph? Just need to get something off your chest? A secret to share? Email us at email@example.com or call our 24-hour No BS Podcast hotline at 877.404.1337 x1337--operators are standing by.