Yesterday, Google put up a post on the Chromium Blog to celebrate a year of extensions being available for their Chrome web browser. The main part of the post touts some big numbers that the feature has accumulated in the past 12 months. Those include, over 8,500 extensions, 1,500 themes, a third of Chrome users now having at least one extension installed, and over 70 million extension and theme installs total. But actually, looking at the Extension Gallery, the numbers may be even bigger.
According to the pages in the Extensions Gallery, there are actually now over 10,000 extensions in the gallery. 10,078, to be exact. The “Most Popular“, “Most Recent“, and the “Top Rated” areas point to that number. Each area shows what would appear to be accurate counts for the total number of extensions currently in the Gallery.
It’s not clear why Google wouldn’t tout the 10,000 number instead of the “over 8,500″ while marking their one-year milestone. But unless their Gallery counts are off, the number is into five digits now, just a year after launch. (It is worth noting that the Chrome Web Store does count just over 8,500 extensions. Presumably, the Chrome Web Store will eventually be the official home of extensions, but the standalone area does still exist with its higher count.)
And the number is also significant because Chrome’s chief rival when it comes to extensions (aka add-ons) is, of course, Firefox. So how many add-ons are available on that browser? Mozilla isn’t quite as transparent with the counts (instead, not surprisingly, they focus on cumulative download numbers), but presumably if you add up the totals from all the categories, you’ll get the overall total. As it stands today, that number is 12,739.
The last time we checked the two counts back in March, Chrome stood at just over 3,000 extensions, while Firefox had 11,623. So both are still growing, but Chrome extensions are growing much, much faster. At the current rate, Chrome would surpass Firefox in that regard at some point pretty early next year.
Firefox, which has had extensions for years now, is obviously still destroying Chrome when it comes to total add-on download numbers. But if you look at charts found here, you’ll see that since October, Firefox add-on download numbers have been dropping fairly quickly on a weekly basis. Perhaps this is as some users transition over to Firefox 4, which is currently in beta testing.
When Chrome was first released, users praised its speed, but many said they couldn’t switch from Firefox because of the add-ons. Google fixed that last year, and the numbers show Chrome gaining users at a much more rapid pace than Firefox is now. In fact, Chrome just because the top browser among TechCrunch visitors — ending Firefox’s four year reign.
Now the two are about to battle over web apps. Google just launched their Chrome Web Store earlier this week, and Mozilla is gearing up to counter when the Open Web App Ecosystem. Of course, as they stand right now, Chrome web apps essentially seem to act like either extensions or worse, just links to web pages hosting apps.
Chrome extensions are also an important part of the just soft-launched Chrome OS.
As you’ve probably heard, earlier this week Google held a major event to launch the Chrome Web Store and Chrome OS, its new operating system that revolves almost entirely around web apps and browser extensions. There aren’t currently any consumer laptops that support Chrome OS — and there won’t be until the middle of next year — but Google is running a test program by distributing some unknown quantity of unbranded ‘test hardware’ codenamed Cr-48 to press and select early adopters across the US. We got our hands on one of these devices earlier today, and I’ve been using it as my primary computer since then. Here are my initial thoughts.
Doing a thorough critique of the hardware at this point doesn’t really make sense, given that OEMs like Asus will be announcing their own products over the coming months and you can’t actually buy the Cr-48. But here are the basics: the computer is small but isn’t nearly as light as ultra-portables like the MacBook Air (I find it to be more comparable to the 12 Inch PowerBook G4, circa 2005). There’s a USB port that currently has limited driver support, an SD card slot, and a VGA port.
The keyboard is full-sized and feels a lot like the ones found on modern Apple computers. The mouse trackpad — or at least, the software running the trackpad — is a complete turd. It works well enough for basic pointing and clicking, but anything beyond that has issues. The ‘right click’ feature, which involves tapping two fingers on the trackpad, only seems to register around ⅔ of the time. Trying to select text or drag anything anywhere is an exercise in frustration.
Is it fast? Sort of, but it’s not universally snappy. Click on a tab and you’ll notice a slight lag before the content is displayed — it’s not that noticeable, but it’s the sort of thing that keeps the experience from feeling fluid. Likewise, scrolling around content-rich web pages sometimes leads to a few jitters, and occasionally things slow down for a few moments for no apparent reason.
But all of these things — from hardware to software issues — are sure to improve in the five or six months before we start seeing consumers get their hands on the first production Chrome OS notebooks. The fact that Flash is painfully slow doesn’t really matter, because ninety-something percent of the people reading about those problems will never even have the opportunity to use the Cr-48. By the times these things hit store shelves, all of these issues will be fixed.
But the big question remains: what about actually living in the cloud – are people going to be able to forsake their traditional computers in favor of a lightweight Chrome OS machine?
The answer is “probably”, but, as I’ll get to later, it will be partially out of Google’s hands.
Navigating around an OS that is essentially a browser feels a little weird at first. Your music application is a browser tab. Your email is a browser tab. Your documents are browser tabs. Sure, you’ve probably used some or maybe even all of these in web-based apps before now, but it’s hard to kick the feeling that the application you’re looking for is behind your browser, or minimized in a taskbar, or… something. I know it doesn’t sound rational, but after a decade (or two) of using operating systems with layered windows, this system will take a bit of getting used to. You know that feeling when you start driving a car you’ve never driven before, and everything feels a little out of place? It’s sort of like that.
Fortunately the learning curve doesn’t seem very steep. The key, for me at least, is the ‘Pinned Tab’ feature. This has always been nice on the ‘normal’ version of Chrome, but I’ve found it indispensible in Chrome OS. If you fail to organize your apps you’ll find yourselves sifting through a dozen tabs every few minutes, which is very frustrating. But if you keep the apps and web sites you use most open as pinned tabs — I’ve got Gmail, MOG, Twitter, and TechCrunch for now — suddenly things make a lot more sense.
Chrome OS has a few other tricks up its sleeve to make you feel more at home, the biggest of which is its Panels feature (which is actually pretty slick by Google UI standards). Here’s how they’re described by the Chromium Projects site:
Panels in Chromium OS are used as containers that allow a user to multitask without leaving the view of their current application. For example, with a music player and chat in panels, a user can control the playback of their music and chat with a friend while watching a video or reading a long document in their main view.
As we noted earlier today, Google has wasted little time getting their Cr-48 Chrome notebook machines in users’ hands. Less than two days after Google unveiled the device, there are a ton of reports of users getting them. Humorously, some people who thought they signed up for Chrome stickers are also receiving them — quite a bonus! But the Cr-48 hasn’t been a totally pleasant surprise.
A number of reports have come in saying that trying to play Flash videos and apps on the device more or less sucks. The experience ranges from buggy to not working at all, apparently. This includes YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, CNN — basically all of major video sites on the web.
Now, it has to be noted that Google has made it very clear that the Cr-48 is meant to be a test machine. It’s not ready for mass production. Plus, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the processor inside, an Intel Atom, can’t fully run Flash. That said, Google has also made it very clear that Flash is an important part of Chrome (and Chrome OS). In fact, it’s baked-in. You have no choice but to have it installed.
Yes, you can disable the plug-in through Chrome, but unlike Apple’s mobile devices, the fall-back is basically non-existent.
Apple made waves when they decided not to include Flash on their new MacBook Airs, but there’s no denying that the machines run much more smoothly (both in terms of battery life and web browsing performance) without it. Maybe Google should consider following a similar route when the first consumer-ready Chrome notebooks roll out.
Ben Kessler woke up to an unexpected surprise on the doorstep of his New York home this morning: a Cr-48. Yes, the just-unveiled Google Chrome Notebook is already rolling out to those who requested one.
It was only two days ago that Google unveiled that the Cr-48 would be the first computer featuring their new Chrome OS. Google was quick to note that the 12.1-inch machine would feature no branding and was simply meant to be a test machine for developers, students, and a few other demographics. They asked people to fill out a form here to request one of the limited-quantity Cr-48s.
Kessler, who is the Communications Director for SeatGeek, says he simply filled out the form on Google’s site to request one. And *poof* less than two days later, here it is.
Google keeps saying that Chrome is all about speed. That’s apparently true about delivery speed as well.
Kessler was nice enough to send us some pictures of the device below.
With all this talk of a cloud-based Chrome OS, it’s time to take a cold hard look at what “apps” in this brave new world will look like. I recall a time, not long ago, when Apple was about to change the world with Dashboards and before that Windows users had their own “widget economy.” Then Yahoo! added widgets to the web and then Samsung added widgets to their TVs. And widgets appeared here, there, and everywhere. But do widgets beget money?
No, because they are, by definition, useless as standalone products.
Case in point: I just “downloaded” the Netflix “app” from the Google Chrome App Store and, to my great disappointment, it resulted in an additional widget in my toolbar and little else. When you click on it you see a top 100 list of Netflix movies. Also available is a list of top rentals, new instant and DVD-based movies, and genres. If you click on the Queue button you go to Netflix proper in your browser and if you click “play” another window opens and asks you to update Silverlight. It’s more of a constant ad for Netflix than a real way to interact with the service.
True, there are a few good widgets like Tweetdeck for Chrome (which one wag noted is just like the real Tweetdeck in that it “crashed for no reason”) but a widget is not an app and I worry that the widget economy will overrun the Chrome App store before real apps can take hold.
What is an app and what is a widget? A widget is a way to view information. I compare it to a view or a form in a database – the data is there and the widget can show the data and do very little else with it. An app is a formal system with a process, a way to modify data, and has a clear reason to exist. A widget exists to offer a single piece or set of data quickly.
The problem is that it’s easy to build widgets and it’s hard to build apps. Look at Chumby, for example. The Chumby is a widget machine that runs on a Linux core and includes a touchscreen. However, it does not have one clear purpose and, because of this, users have no idea what to do with it. I would say the vast majority of Chumby users plugged it in and forgot about it. My Chumby, sadly, collects only dust.
But hidden in the periphery is an entire Chumby hacking community attempting to create real tools out of the Chumby’s component parts. This is where devices and OSes really shine – with the people dead set on making something useful.
What needs to happen is this: folks like Netflix need to build XBox and Roku-like apps for Chrome and Chrome OS. This will allow users to browse, select, and watch movies from their browsers. The interfaces already exist so it’s not too hard and widgets like this simply get in the way of real, formal application development. In short, go big or go home, Netflix et al. Until then I’ll just keep using your web “apps” on my “standalone OS” machine. I may even fire up Dashboard once or twice this week, just to see how my old OS Xwidgets are doing.
Today at this morning’s major Chrome event, Google has just announced that Chrome OS… isn’t done. It still has work to do with camera drivers (for notebook USB ports), finishing Google Cloud Print, and more. But it wants to get the notebook into early adopters’ hands, so it’s announcing a new Pilot Program. Google will be distributing a notebook called Cr-48. These are not for sale, they are designed as a test unit.
Consumers will be able to apply for this, however, but Google isn’t giving it away to just anyone. On its Facebook Fan Page, they ran a promotion a couple days, announcing a sticker for a Chrome laptop, if you did that quiz, you get a notebook. If you go to youtube.com/googlechrome and make a video showing why you’re an ideal candidate for this, you’ll have a chance to snag a notebook. And everyone in the audience at today’s event is getting one (everyone claps). And if you don’t fall into any of those buckets, you can go to this page to apply.
The CR-48 is supposed to boot in 10 seconds, includes a webcam, and 12-inch LCD display. It is 3.8 pounds with 8 hours of battery life and an entire week of standby time, according to Google’s marketing materials. Eventually, manufacturing partners will make Chromebooks you can actually buy in stores.
Google will also be deploying this to some partner businesses, including American Airlines, Kraft, Virgin America, the Department of Defense and more.
Here’s some big news from today’s giant Chrome event: every Chrome OS netbook will ship with a cellular modem, and they will include some free data access from Verizon.
Users will get 100MB of free data access every month free for two years. And if you want to go beyond that you can without getting a contract — unlimited ‘day passes’ will be $9.99, and you can also buy data in chunks.
Of course, these netbooks will also ship with WiFi access. Most people will be able to conserve their limited free data for emergencies and lightweight data access like email.
It’s finally here. Nearly a year and a half after announcing it, today Google is widely expected to launch Chrome OS, the super-fast, lightweight operating system that’s based entirely on its popular Chrome web browser. And we’re also seeing the launch Google’s web-based marketplace for web apps, Chrome Web Store.
We’ve been tracking the development of Chrome OS since it was first announced (it’s an open source project, so it was sort of hard to keep secret), but there are still plenty of questions: what hardware is it going to ship with? What’s the price-point? And perhaps most important: is it going to really provide an array of web apps that make it a viable alternative to traditional operating systems like Windows and Mac OS X? And the web store brings plenty of questions of its own. Read on for the answers. And there’s also a Live Stream.
Sundar Pichai, VP Product Management, has taken the stage.
Three areas: Chrome, Chrome Web Store, and Chrome OS.
It’s now just about time for the Chrome event Google is holding in San Francisco, presumably to show off both the new Chrome Web Store and the beta version of Chrome OS. We’ll be there to cover it live, but here are a few last-minute tidbits.
First, as Google Operating System noticed, Google uploaded two new videos to the YouTube Google Chrome channel earlier today. While neither video is live, the thumbnails are and confirm that one is about Chrome OS (a tour) and one is about the Chrome Web Store.
Second, some users are apparently reporting seeing an alert in their version of Chrome that asks them if they want to “test drive” a new Chrome notebook. We haven’t been able to confirm this, but have heard something about how the launch of the hardware that runs the OS will be in some sort of “test drive” mode.
Back in April, we wrote about a very cool new feature that Google was working on alongside Chrome OS: Cloud Print. Essentially, it’s a service that takes all of the printer drivers you normally need on a computer and puts them in the cloud (on Google’s servers). This way, you can easily print from a machine regardless of the OS. This means you can print from Chrome OS or from any mobile device. And it appears that it’s now just about ready to roll out.
As you can see here, there’s already a live landing page for Google Cloud Print. From this page, you can print a test page. This shouldn’t be too surprising given that Google is believed to be unveiling a beta version of Chrome OS at an event in San Francisco later today.
Tomorrow, Google is hosting a Chrome event in San Francisco for the media. While they won’t say exactly what it’s about, it seems likely that both the Chrome Web Store and Chrome OS will make an appearance. But no shortage of bug reports in the open source code area make me wonder if the latter is sort of a rush-job.
Since they first unveiled Chrome OS to the world last year, Google has said that they wanted to release it this year. And despite some talk of delays, Google reiterated recently that they would indeed have something to show this year. But they would not say if such a product would be in beta form — even though there are many indications in the aforementioned bug reports that indicate that will be the case. And some of those bug reports are a little worrisome.
Further, a report from a few days ago in Engadget had the following to say about netbooks based on Chrome OS:
Again, we’ve heard that the Atom-powered laptop isn’t going to be a mass market device — there will only be around 65,000 units available to Google’s closest “friends and family” — and that the Cloud-based OS is still very much in a beta, non-consumer-friendly state.
So is Google simply rushing the product out there to technically meet their promised 2010 deadline? They had also originally named a number of OEM partners at the launch. But it would appear that this first iteration will be a Google-branded netbook produced by one of the partners (codenamed “Mario” perhaps?), while other units will have to wait until 2011.
Simply scan this page to find any number of bugs currently hampering Chrome OS leading up to tomorrow’s launch. Many are minor UI elements, but plenty are not-so-minor software/hardware problems as well, it seems. For example, check out this report by a Google employee two days ago:
I become mad with rage because the trackpad is so flaky. Sometimes it loses a click, ending a drag somewhere in the middle. Sometimes it decides that I clicked even though my fingers aren’t even close to the trackpad. Sometimes the mouse cursor jumps around randomly.
That’s not good. He continues to say that “The trackpad is way way better than it used to be, but it’s still very hard to use.” As of yesterday, Google had yet to address this issue.
It’s not clear from the report if it’s just one type of machine affected, but the latter quote would seem to suggest that it’s a wider issue. Further, while the report didn’t state the exact device in the correct place, it does note that it’s a “dev x86-mario” machine, likely the one we’re going to see tomorrow, running the latest build of Chrome OS.
And there’s more. According to this bug, as of today, sync isn’t working. This is a vital feature to the whole OS, obviously. Here’s an issue with the power button. Here’s a pretty big cellular/wifi switching issue. Here’s a system update bug. A battery calculation problem. The list goes on and on.
Now, obviously the open-source nature of Chrome OS gives people like me a huge peek into issues I wouldn’t normally see if say a Windows manufacturer or Apple was about to launch a machine. But some of these alongside the various reports of the system launching in early beta mode do have me concerned.
And it’s fine if Google only intends for these machines to go to “friends and family”, but presumably some members of the press are going to get their hands on them as well (we’ll be there tomorrow, for example). Certainly Google has to know that if the machines aren’t up to snuff, journalists are going to call that out.
But maybe Google is confident enough in the big-picture idea of Chrome OS. That is, an OS that is only the web browser, none of that other clutter. An OS that you can sign in to from anywhere and from any machine (with Chrome OS, of course) and have access to all of your stuff. Maybe they just mean tomorrow to be an early taste of what to expect from the OS. And if that’s the case, expect them to reiterate that over and over again. “This is just a test.”
Or perhaps they’ll just make some last minute executive decisions to kill off certain features that aren’t working yet. Clearly, that has already been going on behind the scenes as you can also see in the bug reports. But some of the hardware/software issues will definitely need to be resolved, not pushed.
A lot has changed in the past year since Google first gave us the rundown of Chrome OS. Netbook sales have cooled, the iPad has come into existence, and Android has exploded in popularity. Oh and the key architect of the entire Chrome OS project, Matthew Papakipos, left Google over the summer — for a job at Facebook.
At the time, Google said not to read into that too much, that they have a very deep bench of talent. That’s undoubtedly true, but given the current landscape, Chrome OS needs to be polished at launch, not tarnished.
Earlier today, we were tipped about this thread in the Chromium Google Groups area. Gregor Hochmuth, the Product Manager for the Chrome Web Store, responded to a question wondering if Google would be giving developers advanced notice before the store goes live. Hochmuth said that yes, there would be reminders sent out before the launch to let developers get edits and updates in before it rolls live. Well, the first such message was sent out today.
Specifically, Google is starting to notify current Chrome extension developers about the upcoming Chrome Web Store launch. The reason is that extensions (and themes) will be wrapped into the Web Store alongside apps. In the email, Google will only say that the store is launching “later this year”, but this email seems to be the first indications that it’s coming sooner rather than later.
Another good indicator? Google traditionally had done code lock-downs for the holidays. This essentially means no new launches once everyone breaks in the next few weeks. And all indications are that this will happen again. Google appears to be gearing up for the launch of quite a few things before this break. And one of them will almost for sure bethe Chrome Web Store.
Below, find the email that Google has sent out to developers to notify them about an impending change. (Note the sloppy numbering of the steps too.)
Thank you for developing for Google Chrome. These last few months, our team has been hard at work, preparing for the Chrome Web Store launch later this year. Extensions and themes for Google Chrome will be part of this new store. With this email we wanted to inform you of some upcoming developments and changes in the extensions gallery and how you can best prepare the items you have listed in the gallery for the upcoming launch.
- We have updated our guidelines for extension and theme creative assets: We recommend you to produce all the creative materials described in our docs. These are currently available only to apps developers but the same guidelines will apply to all items listed in the store once we launch. So, if you get these prepared now, you are going to be ready when the store launches. For those of you with complex extensions, we also highly recommend investing some time in preparing videos and slideshows, describing how your extensions work.
- Double-check our branding policies: If you are using Google trademarks and brand names to describe your items, please take a moment to re-read our branding policies to help you avoid common mistakes.
- Verify your listed items using Google’s Webmaster Tools: This new feature allows you to associate your website with the items you have posted in the store. This will make users more comfortable trying them out. Access this feature at the developer dashboard.
- Set up your Google Checkout merchant account and associate it with your developer account: If you arelocated in the US and want to sell apps and eventually extensions or themes through the store, you’ll need to register for a Google Checkout merchant account. You can find more information on this new help article.
- Make your extensions more discoverable: We will be launching a robust system of extensions categories in the gallery. You now have the option to classify your extension in up to three of these categories through the developer dashboard. This will help your extension be discovered by users who will be browsing the pages for each category.
Thank you again for making Google Chrome a better browser.
The Google Chrome Extensions team
Note the part where the Chrome Web Store will feature “a robust system of extensions categories”.
Chrome 8 is here! Chrome 8 is here! The latest greatest version of Chrome! Joyous day, right? Don’t tell Google that. The search giant announced the (stable) launch not on their Google blog, and not even on their Google Chrome blog, but on their Google Chrome Releases blog. And in the post, they devote a whole two sentences to it. The rest is all about bug fixes.
But to those who follow Chrome closely, this shouldn’t be a big surprise. Ever since they shifted their strategy to release a new version of the browser every six weeks or so, the version numbers have become a mere afterthought. Before today’s update, the Chrome stable build was version 7, the beta was version 8, and the dev was version 9. And I’m sure Chromium (the open source browser on which Chrome is built) will hit version 10 shortly.
Back in the day, Google used to give these Chrome launches much pomp and circumstance. Next thing you know, there will just be a tweet about it. Then just a retweet. Then maybe a Plurk update to announce Chrome 14.
Of course, all of this doesn’t mean Chrome 8 is without any new features. Google highlights the built-in PDF viewer as one. The other big one not stated is that it’s likely to be the release that makes the forthcoming Chrome Web Store possible.
And, of course, the latest version is stated to be the fastest and most stable version yet.
Here’s the meat of Google’s Chrome 8 post:
The Chrome team is happy to announce our latest Stable release, 8.0.552.215. In addition to the over 800 bug fixes and stability improvements, Chrome 8 now contains a built in PDF viewer that is secured in Chrome’s sandbox. As always, it also contains our latest security fixes, listed below. This release will also be posted to the Beta Channel.
Chrome 8 is here. Shhhh.
Back in August, at a conference in Europe, Google showed a little preview of the Chrome Web Store and noted that a launch would probably take place in October. While there were some hints of it coming along in October (including some pricing details that were apparently turned on by accident), it never came. And since today is the last day of November, I think it’s safe to say it’s not coming this month either. But it now definitely appears that Google is ramping up for an early December launch of the store, perhaps alongside a Chrome 8 release or a Chrome 9 beta release.
Earlier today, there was a flurry of activity in the Chromium Issues list. Specifically, there was a lot of activity surrounding the “ReleaseBlock” labeled items. And if you look them over, you’ll notice that most of these 16 issues are related to the Web Store or Chrome Apps in some way. Google appears to be tying up loose ends to get this product out the door as soon as possible.
So what’s being worked on? Well, first of all, as you can see above, Google has created a new logo for the Web Store. This logo has already made it into the latest builds of Chromium, and should trickle in the dev channel of Chrome shortly. Further, a Chrome Apps promo to be shown in the browser is now just about complete — they’re just fixingsome bugs with it.
Meanwhile, Google is trying to finish updating the documents detailing what’s new with extensions. Extensions are going to be a part of the Web Store (alongside themes and apps), so the fact that they’re getting the documentation ready is another good sign that a launch is very close.
Another pretty big feature being worked on is the ability to create desktop shortcuts for apps. You would be able to right click on an app in Chrome and create a desktop shortcut for it. The coding work on this appears to be done and it’s now being implemented.
A bigger change that is only going to apparently be enabled behind a flag in Chrome 9 is the ability to create appswithout using the crx format. This is now slated as a M10 feature. One problem with crx (which current Chrome extensions use) is that they’re limited to 10 MB in size.
Given that these things are labeled as “M9″ blockers, it’s not clear if Google will launch the Chrome Web Store as a feature of Chrome 9 in beta, or Chrome 8 in stable release. Chrome 7 is currently the latest stable release of the browser, while Chrome 8 is in beta, and Chrome 9 is in the dev channel. Again, you can probably expect the company to shift those all up shortly. This may even happen as soon as early next week, which would be in line with whatMediaMemo reported a month ago.
The Chrome Web Store is also expected to be a key part of Chrome OS, so it makes sense that Google would want to get it out there first in Chrome, then roll out the first versions of Chrome OS, still slated to hit before the end of the year.
This is just getting silly. Yesterday, we reported on a new Chrome extension created by a developer that allowed you to scrape your Facebook contact information. Called “Facebook Doesn’t Own My Friends,” the extension provided a workaround to import your friends contact information on Facebook into Gmail and CSV files. As we noted in our post, the extension was taken down shortly after our story went up. The exporter is still down, and it’s unclear who has actually taken the exporter down, but the implications are clear. The only companies that will provide these technologies are Facebook and Google, and this will probably involve a peace treaty of some sort.
So what got us to this dark place where ten minutes after the workaround was posted on TechCrunch, it was taken down? Nearly a month ago, Google began blocking Facebook API access to download Google contacts. Facebook hacked its way around that, and Google subsequently issued a statement that they were “disappointed”. Facebook Platform engineer Mike Vernal then responded in the comments of one of our blog posts about the slap fight, defending Facebook’s policy and calling it “consistent”.
A few weeks ago, Google started posting a warning to users who tried to import their Gmail contact to Facebook, effectively saying that your contacts information will be effectively trapped inside Facebook without the ability to re-export the data. It seemed that the message was somehow blocked because the “warning” subsequently disappeared when you tried to export your Gmail data.
Then last week, Facebook started removing the Gmail option from the list of third party email providers on “Find Friends.” The Gmail option was also removed on Facebook-owned FriendFeed.
What’s so confusing about this back and forth, passive-aggressive brouhaha is that it’s unclear which company is initiating each action. Both companies have remained fairly tight-lipped about the issue.
The key part of all this is reciprocity—Google feels that since they are providing the ability to export Gmail contact data to Facebook, Facebook should allow Gmail users to do the same.
The thing is that reciprocity is an issue that affects relationships between major countries. Whether it be over tariffs, law enforcement or immigration policies, countries and states deal with reciprocity daily. Often times, agreements are finally made through treaties.
For now, this rigmarole has continued for nearly two months-is it time for a peace treaty between Google and Facebook?
So, it appears that the first Chrome OS netbooks are set to launch in the next few weeks. And it now appears that the first ones will be Google-branded versions, built by a third-party manufacturer. And you can be sure that Google is already testing these internally, as they do this for basically all of their products leading up to launch. And a few more hints about them may reside in the Chromium issue tracker.
For several months, Google has been internally testing Chrome OS on a wide variety of netbooks. These have included Asus Eee machines, Lenovo machines, Dell machines, and a few others. How do I know? Because they’re often listed under “Type of computer” in bug reports. But more interesting has been the numerous references to “dogfood” machines. “Dogfooding” is the name given to the process of internally testing your own product. Again, Google has been doing this for months.
But a “dogfood” machine could be anything. Perhaps it’s just one of the brands mentioned above slightly modified. But recently, the number of bugs referencing “dogfood” machines has seemed to give way to two new types of machines: “Mario” and “Andretti”.
For non-IndyCar fans, Andretti is basically the Michael Jordan of the sport. He’s often referenced as the fastest driver on the planet. And that’s important because Google has made it very clear that perhaps the main key to their Chrome OS netbooks is that they must be fast. They must boot in seconds. Basically, instantly. They must be like Mario Andretti.
Obviously, it’s just a guess. But given the number of references to “Mario” and “Andretti” machines, I’m thinking these may be the nicknames that Google has given to their dogfood Chrome OS devices that they mean to release next month. The names didn’t start appears in the logs until mid-October, and since then, references have increased in the reports.
Further, more detailed reports list the OS version as “Indy” (the platform is “Chrome OS”). Cute, Google.
If my guess is right, the next question is if it will be “Mario” or “Andretti” that crosses the finish line next month and gets released? Or perhaps both will? Fasten your seat belts.
Well look what we have here … Last time we checked in on the Facebook/Google slapfight, Facebook had removed the option to import your contacts from Gmail and was still holding strong on the whole “denying contact info access to Google” rigamarole that started the fight in the first place. Up until now many no other choice but to use Yahoo Mail if they wanted to mass export their Friends data from Facebook into Google. Well Happy Thanksgiving data reciprocity fans! A third party developer has decided to build “Facebook Doesn’t Own My Friends,” a Chrome extension that lets you easily export your Facebook Friends’ contact information.
Whoever built this is pretty vehement about whose side they’re playing on. Take a look at the sarcastic tone of the “About” description.
“Despite what Facebook says, if someone is your “friend” and you can see his/her email address on his/her Facebook info, they are probably OK with you emailing them.
Facebook doesn’t let you export this data, so they expect you to click on each of your friends’ pages, copy their email address (or other contact information), and paste it into your email client. Kind of ridiculous? Yes.”
I just tried it and it works, scraping and exporting your contacts into both Gmail and CSV files even though it might take awhile and multiple tries if you’ve got hundreds of friends. And while the extension is not officially affiliated with Google (or Facebook), it going to be exciting to see what happens to it after this post.
Chrome OS draws near. Last night brought perhaps the more surefire sign yet: Google is openly talking to The New York Times about it. Perhaps that is in response to rumors that it was being delayed into next year. While details are still scant, NYT reports that before the end of the year, Google will release a lightweight netbook running Chrome OS. It will likely be branded as a Google product, but built by a third-party, similar to what the search giant did with their Nexus One phone, says the report.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, Christmas has come early again this season with the launch of Jimmy Wales’ annual appeal for Wikimedia Foundation donations. Wales’ ubiquitous banner ad is now in its seventh year and the company is shooting for $16 million dollars to keep their impressive collaborative encyclopedia afloat ad free.
And while Wikipedia tested out different banners for the 2010 launch, none came close to the effectiveness (a 3% click through rate!) of the unintentionally hilarious image of Wikipedia founder Wales gazing at you intently. The image is so beloved that someone actually created a Google Chrome extension that allows you to take the Wales banner with you wherever you go online. And so we did.
You can download the extension here.
There’s a lot of hoopla right now that Google’s Chrome OS has been delayed and will miss the stated release date of “this year”. Much of this is based off of the comment that Google CEO Eric Schmidt made last week at Web 2.0 Summit, in which he said that Chrome OS would be available sometime in “the next few months”. So I asked Google today if they were still sticking with the “later this year” availability of Chrome OS — the answer I got? An enthusiastic “yep!”