Showing posts with label Chrome. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chrome. Show all posts

Chrome Updates from Google : Chrome Beta for iOS

In addition to the stable channel, there are 3 other Chrome channels you can use to check the latest features before they're released for everyone: beta, dev and canary. Canary builds are only for Windows and Mac, the dev channel is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS and Android, while the beta channel is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, Android and now iOS.

That's right, you can try out Chrome Beta for iOS. You need to enter your email address and confirm you "understand that Google will share your information with Apple in order to participate in the TestFlight program". Google will send a confirmation email. "Once you have confirmed your e-mail address, you can expect to receive an invitation to join TestFlight within a few minutes."


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Install the TestFlight app on your iOS device, tap "redeem" and enter the code from the invitation. If you've already installed Chrome on your phone or tablet, TestFlight will ask you if "you want to replace the current app version with the test version".

Right now, you can upgrade from Chrome 46.0.2490.73 to Chrome 47.0.2526.53. The new version adds support for more Bluetooth keyboard shortcuts (open/close/change tabs and voice search) and adds 3D touch support on iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus (force touch the Chrome icon to open a new tab, a new incognito tab or start a voice search).



Chrome Web Store Adds Compatibility Information

Chrome Web Store now shows if an app, extension or theme is "compatible with your device". Google also uses a small icon to reassure users that they can install the app, extension or theme and it will work on their device.


If the app is not compatible, the blue "add to Chrome" button is replaced by a red "not compatible" button, just like before. Click the "not compatible" button and you'll see a message like: "This application is not supported on this computer. Installation has been disabled. The following problems are detected: This app runs only on Chrome OS".

Chrome 42 Brings Better Integration With iOS 8

Chrome 42 for iOS brought a lot of new features. Some of them use the APIs introduced in iOS 8, while others make it easy to use Apple's bigger phones.

You can now reload a page, open a new tab or close a tab with one swipe. Go to the top of a page, pull down and you'll see three buttons: a reload button (pull straight down), a plus button for opening a new tab (pull down and left) and a button that closes the current tab (pull down and right).



Chrome for iOS 8 now has support for the Today View. You can open a new tab, use voice search or open copied links. For example, you can copy a link from Safari, open the Notification Center and tap "open copied link" to open the page in Chrome.


Chrome has its own app extension for the Today View, but it also supports third-party app extensions. For example, you can now use password managers like LastPass and 1Password right inside Chrome. Here are the instructions for LastPass. Basically, you need to tap the share button from Chrome's menu, enable LastPass in the extensions menu and then you can quickly log in using LastPass.


Another new feature allows you find answers more quickly. When you're searching from the address bar, Chrome now shows answers related to weather, stocks, unit conversions and more. Chrome also shows the latest URL copied to the clipboard.

ARC Welder: Run Android Apps in Chrome

Google added support for Android apps in Chrome OS, but there are only a few Android apps in Chrome Web Store. Developers tested the apps and tweaked them to work well in Chrome OS, even if they were created for phones and tablets.

Now there's an app for Chrome and Chrome OS that lets you run Android apps. It's called ARC Welder (ARC = App Runtime for Chrome, Weld = to unite) and it's mostly for Android developers that want to test their apps before submitting them to Chrome Web Store. You can select any APK file, but not all of them work, especially if they use Google Play Services APIs.


I've tried various APK files from APKMirror.com. A few of them worked properly (IMDb, BBC News, Wikipedia), while others crashed (for example: Amazon and Yahoo Weather), required Google Play Services (like YouTube and other Google apps) or didn't work that well (like Aviary). ARC is still in beta, so there are still many bugs that need to be fixed.

Chrome Data Saver

If you're using the compression proxy from Chrome for Android or iOS and you'd like to see a similar feature in Chrome for desktop, there's a Chrome extension from Google that adds this feature. Data Saver is still in beta, but it works well and it's pretty useful: it reduces data usage by using Google servers to optimize the pages you visit.


"When this extension is enabled, Chrome will use Google servers to compress pages you visit before downloading them. SSL and incognito pages will not be included," informs Google.

It's nice to see that Google Web Accelerator is brought back to life. Even if Data Saver only works in Chrome and it doesn't have all the features from Google Web Accelerator, it's less controversial than Google's Labs project.

Chrome's Warning for Sites With Unwanted Software

Last year, Chrome started to block downloads for applications that "make unexpected changes to your computer — for instance, switching your homepage or other browser settings to ones you don't want". Now Chrome shows a warning when you visit a site that "encourages downloads of unwanted software".

Here's the warning page: "The site ahead contains harmful programs. Attackers on example.com might attempt to trick you into installing programs that harm your browsing experience (for example, by changing your homepage or showing extra ads on sites you visit)". This is a new SafeBrowsing feature, just like malware and phishing warnings, and you can disable it from the settings.


In addition to displaying Chrome warnings, Google will also downrank search results and disable Google ads that lead to sites with unwanted software.

There's a Google page that provides more details about unwanted software. According to Google, unwanted software has at least one of these characteristics: it's deceptive, it affects the user's system in unexpected ways, it's difficult to remove, it collects or transmits private information without the user’s knowledge, it's bundled with other software and its presence is not disclosed.

Google Inbox for Tablets and More Desktop Browsers

Google Inbox now supports more devices and more browsers. Mobile apps are now optimized for tablets (iPads and Android tablets) and you can use Google Inbox in Firefox and Safari for desktop computers. 

You can install the iOS app or the Android app to use Google Inbox on a mobile device. For now, Google Inbox doesn't support mobile browsers.


Inbox no longer requires Chrome for desktop. In addition to Chrome, Inbox now supports Firefox and Safari. For some reason, Internet Explorer is still not supported. Here's the error message displayed by Inbox: "Oops, your browser is not yet supported. Inbox works best on Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. More browsers coming soon."


There's also an error message for old versions of supported browsers: "It's been a while since your browser was last updated. Please upgrade to the latest version to continue using Inbox."


"If you aren't using Inbox yet, now's a perfect time to jump in. Emailinbox@google.com to request an invite and we'll email you as soon as more invites are available," informs Google.

New Google Account Switcher in Chrome for Android



I noticed something strange in Chrome for Android. I was already logged in to one of my Google accounts and I visited Google's homepage to log in to a different Google account. The account switching interface had a new feature called "go incognito" and the "manage accounts" link opened Chrome's account settings sections.


"You're signed in to the following Google Accounts. Add or remove accounts in Android settings," explained Google. There's also an option to "go incognito to browse privately or sign in temporarily".  So now I have to add the account to my device if I want to sign in to a Google account in a mobile browser.


When tapping "add account", you're sent to a different section that lets you sign in to your account and enable various syncing options.



Chrome is just a browser, Google is just a site. Why would you add a Google account to your device when you only want to log in to that account in a browser?

To log in to a different account you can either open a new incognito tab or go to Chrome's settings, disable all accounts and dismiss the warnings. Or you can install a different browser. Why make things so complicated?

Update: There's a flag in chrome://flags called "Enable identity consistency between browser and cookie jar". When enabled, "the browser manages signing in and out of Google accounts". Google also tests a new profile management menu borrowed from Chrome OS. You can try it by enabling these flags: "Enable new profile management system" and "Enable the new avatar menu". "If you share a computer, click 'Switch person' to add your profile and get your own bookmarks, apps, and theme. Switching lets you keep your stuff separate," informs Google.

Chrome Data Saver, Compression Proxy for Desktop



Chrome has a data compression feature that works in Chrome for Android andChrome for iOS. There's an unofficial extension that enables the compression proxy in Chrome for desktop and Google works on its own extension called Data Saver (the codename is Flywheel).

Jerzy GÅ‚owacki found this screenshot:

Bing Asks Chrome Users to Switch to IE

I loaded Bing's homepage in Chrome for Windows and got this message: "Using Chrome? Make the switch. Get the faster Internet Explorer."


Switching from Chrome to Internet Explorer may seem strange. After all, Internet Explorer is bundled with Windows and all Windows users browse the Web using Internet Explorer if they don't install other browsers. The ad reminds Windows users that Internet Explorer has improved and they should install the latest version.

Google's homepage has promoted Chrome by using similar ads when loading the homepage in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari and other browsers.

Chrome Web Store Adds Support Tab

Chrome Web Store has a slightly different interface for apps and extensions. The overview and details tabs have been merged and there's a new support tab that lets you share your feedback without writing a review. You can ask questions, send suggestions and report bugs. The support feature already existed, but it didn't have its own tab.



If the support feature is not enabled, you'll see this message: "If you are experiencing any problems with this extension or have questions or suggestions for the developer, please check out the developer's support site."


OMG Chrome found some other changes. "The horizontal strip of ‘Related Apps‘ and ‘More from this developer‘ no longer appear beneath listings. In the Reviews section the entry form has been shunted from left of the page to the right."

10 New Chromecast Apps

The number of apps that support Chromecast has increased: there are 10 new apps and most of them are free. Here's the list: 

* VEVO (AndroidiOS) - music videos app, available in a few countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, UK and US.

* Red Bull.TV (AndroidiOS) - videos and shows

* Songza (Android) - music streaming, online radio (there's an iOS app, but it doesn't support Chromecast yet)

* PostTV (Android) - news from Washington Post

* Viki (AndroidiOS) - "Korean dramas, Taiwanese, Chinese and Filipino dramas, Telenovelas, Japanese dramas and anime, American cartoons, NBC Universal, History Channel, A&E, E! TV shows, as well as movies from Indonesia, Hong Kong"

* Revision3 (AndroidiOS) - shows



* BeyondPod (Android) - podcast manager

* Plex (Android) - media player, Chromecast support only for videos, the app costs $5 (there's an iOS app, but it doesn't support Chromecast yet)

* Avia (Android) - media player, Chromecast support for local videos, music and photos, requires an in-app purchase that costs $3. I tried the app and it works well for local files, but the Google Cast API supports a small number of file formats

* RealPlayer Cloud (AndroidiOS) - movie player that stores your videos online, US and Canada only


"There's no need to huddle around small screens when you can share your own photos and videos using your phone, tablet, or laptop," mentions Google.

From what I tried, the most interesting apps seem to be Songza (for playing online music) and Avia (for playing local files).

Chrome Download Tips

These features aren't new, but they're pretty useful and they might help you become more productive when you download files in Google Chrome.

1. Do you want to open a file immediately after Chrome downloads it? You don't have to wait, just click the file in the download bar and you should see something like "opening in X minutes".


2. If you always want to open certain files after Chrome downloads them, click the arrow icon and check "always open files of this type". You can use this for .mp4 files or .torrent files, for example.


3. How to move to the desktop a file you've just downloaded? Just drag it from the download bar and drop it onto your desktop.

4. Some files open directly in Chrome: PDF documents, MP4 videos, MP3 songs. How to download them? Use a keyboard shortcut: Ctrl+S or Command-S for Mac. Another option is to right click and select "save as". You can also right click the link to the file and select "save link as".

5. Don't worry about closing the Chrome window accidentally while downloading some files. Chrome shows a warning: "download in progress".


6. Manage your downloads by clicking "Downloads" in the Chrome or pressing Ctrl+J (Command-J for Mac). Use the search box to find a file you've downloaded last month, right-click the URL and you can copy it, click "Show in folder" to locate the file. You can also clear all the downloads.

Chrome for Windows, Limited to Web Store Extensions



Now that Chrome is very popular, many applications bundle Chrome extensions. I've recently installed a security suite from Kaspersky, which bundled 5 Chrome extensions. Chrome's menu shows notifications if there are extensions added by other apps, so the extensions are not installed automatically.

When Chrome added support for extensions, any app could install them automatically and you could easily install .crx files from any site. Google changed this and made it more difficult to install extensions outside the Chrome Web Store.


Apparently, there are some Windows applications that found some loopholes and bypassed Chrome's security features, so Chrome's engineers decided to block almost all Chrome extensions from other sources than the Chrome Web Store.


From the Chromium blog:

"Many services bundle useful companion extensions, which causes Chrome to ask whether you want to install them (or not). However, bad actors have abused this mechanism, bypassing the prompt to silently install malicious extensions that override browser settings and alter the user experience in undesired ways, such as replacing the New Tab Page without approval. Since these malicious extensions are not hosted on the Chrome Web Store, it's difficult to limit the damage they can cause to our users. As part of our continuing security efforts, we're announcing a stronger measure to protect Windows users: starting in January on the Windows stable and beta channels, we'll require all extensions to be hosted in the Chrome Web Store."


There are some exceptions to this rule: developers and power users will still be able to install unpacked extensions and business users will still be able deploy extensions. Everyone else will have to install extensions from the Chrome Web Store, where extensions have to comply with Google's terms and conditions and where users can rate extensions and post reviews.

While this new rule is limited to extensions and Chrome for Windows, it's interesting to notice that Chrome is closer to the walled garden approach from iOS than the more open Android style. Even though Android has bigger security issues than Chrome, it still allows you to install APK files from any site, so you can even use third-party app stores. Google's Android team chose to disable this feature by default and to also add a tool that checks the files you install, while the Chrome team increasingly limited the support for extensions installed outside the Store.

Chrome Web Store is a great place, but not all extensions belong there. Some break Google's terms by allowing you to download YouTube videos, download music files from services like Grooveshark or allow you to use Pandora outside US. From thestore's policies: "we don't allow products or services that facilitate unauthorized access to content on websites, such as circumventing paywalls or login restrictions. We also don't allow products or services that encourage, facilitate, or enable the unauthorized access, download, or streaming of copyrighted content or media". No nudity, no online gambling, no gratuitous violence, no hate speech and the rules can always change to include other restrictions.

Fortunately, the developer option will still work: replace the crx extension with zip, extract the files to a new folder, go to the Chrome extensions page, enable developer mode, click "load unpacked extension" and select the folder you've created.

Chrome Will Remove NPAPI Support in 2015

Google hoped to remove the support for NPAPI plug-ins this feature, but that will have to wait until next year. The NPAPI support will be completely removed in September 2015 from Chrome for Windows and Mac. NPAPI support was removed from Chrome for Linux in Chrome 35, back in May.


Chrome whitelisted some of the most popular NPAPI plug-ins like Silverlight or Google Talk. As their usage continued to decline, the whitelist will be removed in January and users will have to manually enable the plug-ins.

As you can see from the table below, the only plug-in used by more than 10% of the Chrome users is Silverlight and it's followed by Google Talk, which is still used by 7% of the Chrome users. Java usage declined from 8.9% to 3.7%, Facebook's plug-in usage declined from 6% to 3%, while Unity is only used by 1.9% of the Chrome users, down from 9.1% in September 2013.


In April 2015 NPAPI support will be disabled and Google will unpublish from the Chrome Web Store the extensions that require NPAPI plugins. Power users and business users will still be able to enable NPAPI using Chrome flags or Enterprise Policy, but only until September 2015, when NPAPI support will be completely removed. There's a deprecation guide for developers which offers a few alternatives to NPAPI, including HTML5, WebRTC, Chrome APIs for apps and extensions and Native Client.

NPAPI is a legacy technology that enabled a lot of powerful features, back when browsers couldn't play videos, handle video calls or run games. You had to install QuickTime or RealPlayer to play videos, install plug-ins for Google Talk or other video calling apps, install Java or Flash to play games. Now browsers are a lot more powerful and the features that are still not supported by Chrome can be enabled by more secure NPAPI alternatives like PPAPI and Native Client, which are unfortunately still only available in Chrome.

Chromebooks Bring 1 TB of Free Google Storage

If you planned to buy Google storage, you might decide to buy a Chromebook instead. When you buy a Chromebook, you now also get 1 TB of storage for 2 years if you redeem the offer by January 31, 2015. You would have to pay almost $240 for 1 TB of Google storage and the most affordable Chromebook costs $199: Acer Chromebook 11. You get the Chromebook for free and you still save about $40.


Until now, Google only offered 1 TB of storage for Chromebook Pixel users (3 years instead of 2). Chromebook Pixel is the most expensive Chromebook and still costs $1299 when you buy it from the Google Play Store.

You can argue that you won't actually save $240, since Google will drop the prices and 1 TB of storage will no longer cost $9.99/month in 2016. That may be true, but you still got a laptop and more than enough cloud storage for only $200-300.