Firefox/Chrome/IE: Swidget is a browser add-on that swaps banner and box ads for useful widgets, like the weather, news headlines, or even your Facebook feed. More »
Firefox/Chrome/Opera: Interfacelift is one of our favorite sites for high-resolution wallpapers, but the added clicking required to get to the right size is a pain. InterfaceLift Resolutions Links is a userscript that adds direct links to each resolution right on the download page. More »
You can trick Chrome into thinking that any super-long URL is a much shorter one by adding it to the list of "other search engines" in the browser's Preferences pane. One great use for this is to get to frequently-used Google Docs files, like in the image above. More »
Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android: Mozilla has released Firefox 5, the first update for its new rapid-release three-month development cycle.
Firefox/Chrome/Safari/Mailplane: Rapportive, a plugin which we've previously mentioned for its Gmail-enhancing powers, has recently added Twitter capabilities. So now you can follow, reply to, and retweet your contacts—all without leaving Gmail. More »
Google Chrome's stable release has now reached version 12, bringing hardware acceleration for 3D CSS, better in-browser privacy for the built-in Adobe Flash Player, and safer downloads. Chrome 12 will automatically scan downloads to check for malicious files, warning users when they're found. With the new updates comes a loss, though, as Gears is now officially kaput—which means no more offline Gmail access for Chrome users. The update will automatically take place over the next couple of days. [Download Google Chrome via Google Chrome Blog]More »
Google released a new version of its Web browser Google Chrome to its stable channel today, the main channel favored by many, if not most, of Chrome's 160 million users. The updated version offers improvements in security and stability, says Google, most of which will function behind-the-scenes for a better browsing experience.
However, improvements to the browser's graphics capabilities will be more noticeable to users. With added support for hardware-accelerated 3D CSS, Web applications using 3D effects will be "snazzier," Google says. So, what does that mean?
With 3D CSS, which is now available in Google Chrome, the browser has access to the computer's hardware to speed up the experience of viewing 3D effects. To see what this looks like in action, Google offers a link to a Chrome experiment called "Shaun of the Sheep." This cute cartoon (which works only in Chrome), demonstrates how 3D CSS lets you rotate a video, scale it up and down, turn the reflection on and off and activate a rotating carousel of videos.
In addition to 3D CSS Transforms, the experiment also takes advantage of hardware-accelerated HTML5 and the new audio-video format, WebM, open-sourced by Google last year.
More Security Tools
Also new in this release are enhancements to Google's Safe Browsing technology, which has now been improved to warn you before you download certain malicious files. Chrome has improved this detection process so that it can detected the malicious files without having ever seen what URL you visited. More details on that process are described here.
Bye-bye, Flash Cookies!
Google's close relationship with Adobe has allowed it to integrate Flash LSO (local shared objects) deletion right into the Web browser, so you can better manage your online privacy. These objects, often referred to as "Flash cookies" are similar to their "browser cookies" counterparts, in that they contain information used to customize your Web browsing experience, or hold data like your login info for a website. Unfortunately, Flash cookies are harder to delete than regular cookies - until now, Chrome users were only able to manage or delete cookies using this online tool. Now, you'll be able to delete the cookies from your browser Settings. Just click on the Wrench, go to Tools, Clear Browsing Data and select "Delete cookies and other site and plug-in data."
You can also launch your Chrome Web apps by name within the Omnibox in Chrome 12, the Settings pages have been updated, there's improved screen reader support and finally, you can say farewell to Google Gears. The Gears plugin will no longer be supported in this or any future releases of Google Chrome to provide offline access to Web applications. Those duties will be taken over by HTML5 going forward, starting with Gmail Offline, expected by Q3 2011.
Google Chrome is a favorite among power users in no small part due to its innovative experimental features (many of which are eventually integrated into the stable browser). For our final installment of the best of Google Labs, we're taking a look at the best experimental, advanced features you can add to Google Chrome.More »
<!-- videoId: aFWP-nltqfk --><!-- /videoId: aFWP-nltqfk --> Firefox: LessChrome HD is a Firefox extension made by the folks at Mozilla that hides Firefox's address bar by default,
Google has launched a test extension for its Chrome Web browser and browser-based Chrome OS computer operating system which seems to solve the problem of easily moving photos from a camera to online services like Google's Picasa. This is more of challenge for Google's so-called "cloud" operating system, Chrome OS, which is little more than a Web browser running on a notebook computer.
The new extension called "Picasa Uploader" appeared only days ago, just ahead of the start of Google's developer conference, Google I/O, which begins tomorrow in San Francisco. Will the extension launch at that time? How will it work? We don't know yet, but the possibilities are intriguing.
What's the Picasa Uploader?
The Picasa uploader extension, available here, is, according to reports, now automatically appearing on Cr-48 computers, the test hardware in the hands of users, journalists, developers and other early adopters of Google's Chrome OS. We found the extension on our Chrome OS notebook too, for what it's worth.
The extension was created by Kan Liu, who goes by the username kannmnliu online, including within the Chrome Web Store. Kan Liu is a Senior Product Manager at Google, and involved in Chrome OS project. He's also the creator of this Speed theme for Chrome OS users.
The description for this new Picasa extension reads simply: "Not for general use. This is for testing only." The fact that the installation is publicly available, and even installable, makes us wonder if it's about to be switched on for real-world use sometime this week.
At present, you can install the extension, but it seems to be inactive. We tried plugging a camera into our Cr-48 notebook, but nothing happened, even when visiting the "upload" photos section of Picasa's online service. (Let us know if you experience other results).
Why This Little Extension Matters
While a seemingly minor update, if Google was to provide a functional tool like this for uploading files from a peripheral device directly to the "cloud," (in this case, Picasa), then it would have addressed on the few remaining hurdles in using an Internet-only operating system. It's one of the many things we wondered about back in summer of 2009, when Google first announced Chrome OS.
Several of Chrome OS's challenges have since been overcome, including the issue of printing (via Google Cloud Print), running third-party applications (via the Chrome Web Store), spotty Wi-Fi coverage (via 3G access) and more. In truth, the biggest challenge with Chrome OS at present is the shoddy test hardware, which isn't really a reflection on the OS itself. While Chrome OS is nowhere near being able to replace desktop computing and the powerful locally installed applications like Office and Photoshop that run best on users' hard drives, it has come a long way to making casual, cloud-based computing possible.
The only big question now is whether consumers want cloud-based notebooks at all, and if so, at what price? We may find out more about Chrome OS this week, as it's expected the product will, at last, launch commercially thanks to Google's hardware partners. The news is expected to arrive during Google I/O. Stay tuned.
Mac OS X: Google's released the "Canary" version of their popular Chrome browser for OS X, giving Mac users earlier access to advanced features.More »
Chrome: If you often have to go back into your browser's history to find "that one page you were looking at", you know how annoying it can be. History Calendar makes it easier by letting you sort your history by date. More »
We originally reported on SPDY way back in November 2009, when Google introduced it as yet another experiment in making the Web faster, like Go, Native Client and speculative pre-connections. Over the last 18 months, though, SPDY support has found its way into the stable build of Chrome.
The best bit, though, is that SPDY is an open-source project. HTTP 1.1 is a lumbering beast that needs to be replaced before low-latency real-time computing really becomes a reality, and SPDY is one of the best options currently on the table. To be honest, we're not sure why SPDY hasn't received more coverage -- it's awesome in every way. At the moment, though, the only way to help speed up SPDY's proliferation, is with an experimental Apache mod.
As far as actually 'trying it out,' your best bet is downloading Chrome, hitting up some Google sites, and then checking chrome://net-internals to see your active SPDY sessions. SPDY is a transparent replacement for HTTP, though, and as such it's rather hard to see its effects. Google's sites definitely feel fast in Chrome, but there are more technologies than just SPDY at work.
Google Chrome already sports a number of security-minded features, from Incognito mode to a software sandbox which makes exploiting the browser a Herculean task. Now, Google has announced additional protection for Chromium and Chrome users.
Built upon the Safe Browsing API, the new feature introduces protection against malicious downloads. If a download link appears in the Safe Browsing blacklist, Chrome and Chromium will warn users against downloading -- a save button is still presented, of course, in case you're convinced a file is perfectly safe to download.
We'd like to see something a bit more eye-catching than the red warning icon -- like perhaps painting the entire bar red. Many of the people a feature like this aims to protect probably won't notice the icon or change in wording as they'll be focused on clicking the save button.
Google is initially making download protection available to Chrome dev channel users, and you'll likely see it in Canary and Chromium snapshot builds as well. After thorough testing, beta and stable users will be next in line.
The first is a full-featured proxy API, which will, for example, allow users to set different proxy servers for normal browsing and Incognito mode. Proxy auto-config scripts are also supported by the API.
The second -- Web Navigation Extension -- is a bit more expansive. This API will allow devs to build everything from more powerful safe browsing extensions -- like Traffic Light -- to data analysis and reporting extensions.
Both APIs are currently experimental, so you'll need to enable them on the about:flags page to try out any relevant extensions. Apart from a proxy example built by Google and shipped with the Chromium source, we're not aware of any examples just yet, however. We'll let you know when we spot any slick, new extensions which do surface.
Have you ever wondered what the Web was like before the Mosaic Web browser? If you were born in the last 20-odd years, or you only discovered your inner geek recently, did you miss out on monochrome monitors and the dial-up BBS era? Well, here's your chance to get a sneak peek at history: grab the ChromeLite extension and marvel as the entire Web is transformed into ASCII characters.
ChromeLite was actually made by Google as an April Fools' joke -- and indeed, an annoying 'you can uninstall this!' message appears at the top of every page -- but we're kind of hoping that Google, or another developer, takes ChromeLite and turns it into a real ASCII browsing extension with configurable settings. If anything, it will provide an easy way to save bandwidth and CPU time.
RockMelt, the Chromium-based social Web browser has reached a new milestone today. Following its first public beta that was released in early March, RockMelt Beta 2 has started being pushed to the browser's users. The new version brings many new features, alongside the usual bug fixes, performance enhancements, and a new base for the browser -- Chromium 10, which also powers Google Chrome's stable channel releases at the moment. The previous RockMelt beta was based on Chromium 9, and it's nice to see it kept up-to-date.
Perhaps the most intriguing new feature in RockMelt Beta 2 is the new bookmarking system, intuitively called View Later. RockMelt's developers have come to the conclusion that, in a modern browser that offers address auto-complete and makes the most visited sites accessible on the new tab page, people don't use bookmarks anymore -- at least not the way they used to back in the day. These days apparently, bookmarking is mostly about saving interesting pages for future reference. Which is where View Later comes in. You just click on the new clock icon at the far right of the address bar (where Chrome's star icon is), and you've added the page you're viewing to your View Later queue. You can even add individual posts from Facebook or Twitter. Your View Later contents are synced using RockMelt's general sync mechanism.
RockMelt Beta 2 also packs a new Twitter app, which now lets you edit retweets, view direct messages, reply to all, and easily use Twitter search. It uses Twitter's new real-time API, so you get the tweets exactly at the moment they're published.
The Chat bar has been redesigned, making it easier to keep track of multiple conversations, since chats are now docked in the Chat bar along the bottom of the browser, where they even stay visible while you browse the Web. Incoming chat messages will trigger notifications, and the ability to drag individual chat sessions out of the bar and into separate windows is still there.
All in all a solid update, that has started rolling out today and will reach all of the browser's users in a week's time. What remains to be seen is how many people are willing to switch from any of the 'big guys' to RockMelt for its added features.
A baseline was determined with test systems sitting idle, and then browsers were pointed at about:blank, a news site, the HTML5 Galactic demo, and the IE9 fish tank demo. Perhaps unsurprisingly, IE9 came out on top -- though Firefox 4 was a very close second on nearly every test. As you can see, the other browsers didn't necessarily fare quite as well, with Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera all posting significantly worse scores. In Opera 11's case, a laptop battery would last over one hour more with Internet Explorer 9 installed.