Google Chrome's dev channel has been bumped from 7.0.503.0 to 7.0.517.0. The update wasn't silky-smooth for me this time -- more on that later in this post. So what's new in Chrome dev?
For starters, there's been a lot of code cleanup, and there have also been some minor UI tweaks as well -- a few pixels rounded here and there on Mac, but nothing too noticeable. Google Chrome's remoting code has seen numerous updates and it looks as though the feature is just about ready for us to test. Right now, however, all you can see is a login window -- but you won't be able to login. My guess is that only Google's internal accounts will work at the moment.
About:Labs has also arrived in Chrome dev, so you can now take side tabs for a test drive by visiting the Labs page instead of adding a command line switch.
Now, back to the update process itself...
This is also the first time I've had trouble retrieving a Chrome update. Google's Anthony Laforge announced the release last night, but Chrome still tells me that the update server is not available. There could be any number of reasons for the hold-up, but with the arrival of the Web Store just around the corner and the possibility of Chrome OS hardware on the way, Google may be rolling out additional hardware or battening down the hatches on current servers in preparation.
Patience, young padawan. Your dev channel update will arrive soon if you're getting the "not available" message -- try restarting Chrome and see if that fixes things.
By default, SmartSelect can search selected text with Google, Google Maps/Directions, Dictionary.com, and Wikipedia. Adding new search engines is incredibly simple via the extension's options page. Just name your entry, paste in the appropriate search URL, and add [selected] where the highlighted text needs to appear.
Unfortunately, it's not so easy to add an icon for your newly-created search just now. If you want to add an icon, you'll need to drop a .PNG into the extension's folder (mine is located at C:\Users\Lee\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\ppogmggnjkiajddfecpjbjicpcobmaefitem.0.2_0\img), and then enter the filename minus the extension on SmartSelect's options screen (download, not download.png).
You may also want to enable the Ctrl+click option to activate the extension; I found that the menu was a bit to eager to spring into action otherwise.
In the latest Chrome Canary update, Labs has arrived. That means Mac users can now enable tab overview (an Expose-like feature which shows all your open tabs) and Windows users can play around with side tabs -- no switches required! Just enable the feature on about:labs and restart, and you're good to go.
Remember, this has just hit Canary -- but the dev channel shouldn't be too far behind.
Hopefully Google will begin adding other features to the page now that it's made the jump to Chrome. First on our wish list; hardware acceleration!
Fortunately there's a new extension which can do just that. What?! An extension to peek under the hood of other extensions? Yep. It's called Extension Gallery Inspector, and it's pretty slick.
Install the Inspector and head to the Chrome Extensions Gallery. When you browse an extension's detail page, the lightning bolt icon will appear in your Omnibar. Click it, and Inspector will unpack the .CRX file and scan for API calls, permissions, and OAuth support. It also tells you the uncompressed size of the extension and whether or not it has an options page and browser action icon.
You'll obviously need a bit of technical knowledge to benefit from Extension Gallery Inspector as it stands right now. Still, for power users who want to know what an extension has access to -- or developers who are just curious how a particular extension works -- Inspector is a must-have Google Chrome extension.
One of the most talked about features in Safari 5 has been its Reader function -- Apple's built-in implementation of the Readability bookmarklet. Both are nice ways to reformat articles on blog or news sites for distraction-free reading.
If you like the look of Safari Reader but would rather not change from Google Chrome or Firefox, don't worry. The iReader extension brings the same functionality to your browser of choice!
Like Safari Reader, iReader shrouds the background in semi-opaque blackness . Hover near the bottom of the page to display zoom and print controls, as well as e-mail/Twitter/Facebook sharing buttons. iReader is also highly configurable -- set Gmail as your 'send page' client, change the display font, activate smooth scrolling, set the "curtain" to be more or less transparent, and adjust the reading area and margins. You can also choose hotkey combination to activate iReader (rather than having to click on the Omnibar icon).
Google has introduced half a dozen new official Chrome themes, but you won't find them if you click the get themes link on your Personal Stuff menu. No, like the scores of user-created themes out there these new themes from Google have been dropped into the Extensions Gallery.
I'm sure the plan is to list everything in the Gallery at some point (possibly once it's re-branded as the Web Store?), but it really shouldn't be hard to give themes their own section on the existing Gallery. Or, you know, post them on the page Chrome takes you to when you click get themes.
The new themes are called Modern, Adaptive, Vibrant, Inventive, Fresh, and Orkut_Hudson. They're artist-created, and generally not for those of you who like Chrome's interface to be as unobtrusive as possible -- some are downright loud.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course -- tell us what you think of the new themes in the comments.
Starting soon, you just might be able to do that. Google OS spotted a new addition to the Chromium browser: an about:labs page. Load it up, and you'll see experimental browser features which you can enable -- like side tabs on Windows and tab expose on Mac.
At least, very soon you'll be able to turn the features on via this page. Right now, it's not functional. Clicking enable on tabs on the left didn't actually activate the feature for me -- I still had to add the --enable-vertical-tabs switch to my shortcut.
The addition of about:labs is a nice touch, and will allow more users to kick the tires on cutting-edge features. That, of course, is a good thing for Google. A larger group of testers should allow them to tackle bugs more quickly and push features from the dev and canary builds to the beta and stable channels even more quickly.
I'm unabashedly a Gmail fan, and have been using it for years. One of the things I love about it is its ability to search through a huge number of messages, and find exactly what I need quickly.
But what if I told you there's a way to make searching your Gmail even faster, and that it wasn't Google that did it?
CloudMagic is a Google Chrome and Firefox extension which indexes your email locally on your computer, and provides ridiculously fast results when you search. The extension provides a CloudMagic search field right in Gmail with a shortcut key of Ctrl-/ (rather than just / for Gmail's regular search field). It features search-as-you-type that seems to react instantly to your keystrokes, and uses many of the same search operators that Gmail already uses, so you don't need to re-learn how to search.
From a privacy standpoint, CloudMagic creates the index locally on your machine, so there's no risk of someone snooping through your messages. It also stores your password locally, much like a regular email client does.
It's not clear to me what CloudMagic's revenue plan is, but I sure get a kick out of the idea of someone coming along and beating the pants off Google at search in Google's own email service. CloudMagic reports that Google Docs search is the next feature they will be releasing. I can't wait.
- Shorten the release cycle and still get great features in front of users when they are ready
- Make the schedule more predictable and easier to scope
- Reduce the pressure on engineering to “make” a release
- The maximum reward for a single bug has been increased to $3,133.7. We will most likely use this amout for SecSeverity-Critical bugs in Chromium. The increased reward reflects the fact that the sandbox makes it harder to find bugs of this severity.
- Whilst the base reward for less serious bugs remains at $500, the panel will consider rewarding more for high-quality bug reports. Factors indicating a high-quality bug report might include a careful test case reduction, an accurate analysis of root cause, or productive discussion towards resolution.
- Desktop notifications (new since our last developer update)
- File API and FileReader API: Drag and drop files from the desktop to the browser!
- Native Client (NaCl) SDK and ports: Run with --enable-nacl.
- HTML5 sandbox attribute
- Integrated Flash Player plugin: Run dev channel with --enable-internal-flash.
I'm a big fan of Quix, the handy scriptable bookmarklet that works like a command line from your browser.
Wouldn't it be cool if you could use the search bar as a command line, though, instead of triggering a Quix window? If you use Google Chrome, you can. This neat little hack requires setting up Quix as the default search engine, which will require copy-pasting a little bit of code.
To get Chrome to recognize Quix as a search engine, grab the code from this intrepid coder's blog and follow the detailed instructions there. It actually doesn't take long to set up, and anybody who's savvy enough to use Quix can probably manage it. If you're worried that using Quix as your default search will make Googling tougher, don't sweat it too much: simply putting a g in front of your search is the default Quix command for Google.
Instapaper is the creme-de-la-creme of web clipping services, and now it's got its own Chrome extension. Instachrome gives Chrome users a quick way to save and read articles, right from the menubar. You can also use it to view a webpage in Instapaper's highly-readable text view.
Instachrome has two modes: one is a basic click-to-save button, and the other is a full pop-up menu with several Instapaper options. You can switch between the two in the extension's options menu. Instachrome is free, but you'll need an Instapaper account to use it. Fortunately, Instapaper accounts are free, too.
- Geolocation API: Run with the --enable-geolocation flag.
- Incognito extensions
- Unpacked extensions are now remembered across browser restarts.
- Favicons for extension pages (define with a 16x16 image in your manifest.json).
- setPopup() was added to browserAction and pageAction for dynamically changing which popup to show based on the selected tab.
There are plenty of apps for my iPod Touch that I'd like to be able to run on my desktop. You know what's tops on the list? A fart app!
No, not really. In fact, I can't imagine anyone bothering to create something like that -- but as we've seen with just about every other app store or extension repository, if an app is extensible, someone's going to code a fart add-on for it.
Google Chrome users can now get in on the fun(?) with Farty! Install the extension, wait five minutes, and your computer will let one rip. Oh, the hilarity!
Wait a minute...Actually, since it doesn't install a toolbar button this could be just thing to drive your Chrome-surfing co-workers insane. Sadly, it does cause a pop-up window to appear, but it's still a decent one-time gag.