Google Chrome 15 Comes with Redesigned New Tab Page

Google Chrome 15

Last week Google Chrome 15 was  released in the stable channel and after my upgrade I immediately noticed the prominent change on the New Tab Page.

The layout of Google New Tab Page  was changed so that you can have more thumbnails on web apps. Surprisingly, we are still stuck to 10 thumbnails on Most Visited web pages because Chrome will not support more thumbnails according to discussions from here and here.

When you hover at the side of Google New Tab Page, you can click the right arrow or the left arrow icons to move from Most Visited to Apps and vice versa. Also, when you drag any app below the sections, you can organize apps in groups just like how you could organize apps in Android home screen using drag and drop.

Dragging the icon to \”Remove from Chrome\” will uninstall the app and  you can also rename the section labels by double-clicking them. \"Chrome15

Some people hate the redesigned New Tabs Page because it is a departure from what the New Tabs Page used to be in many earlier versions of Google Chrome.

It is not so bad in my opinion. In fact, I like it better than the earlier versions just because you can organize the apps into groups unlike before. What Google should do is to let users disable Most Visited web pages or let users set the default section label. I like to make Apps the  default section instead of Most Visited web pages.

Speaking of the Most Visited web pages, did you notice the subtle color shade at the bottom of each thumbnail? The color comes from the major color from the favicon.

\"Google

I also noticed that Google Chrome 15 has a new place for extension management. It is now located with other Chrome settings.

\"Google

Google is priming up Chrome for tablets — there is no mistake about it and the redesigned New Tab Page is one step closer for Chrome to come to Android even it missed getting in Ice Cream Sandwich. For more detailed guide on how to use the New Tab Page, click here.

Enjoy the video demonstrating how to use the redesigned NTP on Google Chrome 15.

Read more

Internet Browsers As Super Models

Internet Browsers As Super Models? Yes, that\’s right. We\’ve seen Google Chrome and Firefox fighting with Internet Explorer eating glue on a playground before. Now if internet browsers are super models this is how they would look like.

I have seen this image last month and it resurfaced in the internet again. However, this time around I am convinced to write a post about it because it is funny and seems to be more appropriate than the original.

 

\"Internet

You can view the full-size image here. Compare that with the original image. Many people complained that the face of IE in the original image is too ideal and it does not represent the browser at all.

You can see that the face of Internet Explorer model is now deformed and ugly. The other browsers are not changed.

Firefox is still foxy hot. I like the fur shawl but don\’t you think she should have more accessories (add-ons) ?

Opera is sexy. You would think that this image is made by an Opera user because the Opera model seems to be the most stunning of all.

Chrome looks young and unique with red hair and green shoes. I think that the model should be simpler.

Safari looks classy and elegant.  I\’m not sure if those are the best words to describe it but… whatever.

So what do you think? Do all models represent each browser well? What will you change?

Read more

Run Android on PC with BlueStacks App Player and Cloud Connect

Finally there is a free program that anyone could run Android on PC with ease. That is BlueStacks.

Before BlueStacks, I know at least 3 ways to run Android on PC. First is the official Android emulator, then there is an Android-x86 project, and Youwave. The official Android emulator is not for everyone. It is meant for developers who wants to test their apps before putting them up in the market place. As far as I know it runs on windowed mode. Android-x86 project is free and boots on supported x86 platform but it is not easy to set-up and run by your average joe. Youwave is easy to set-up but it is not free and only runs on windowed mode.

The difference of BlueStacks from other Android emulators out there is that it runs on top of Windows. With BlueStacks you can play Android apps fast on full-screen. It integrates seamlessly. Think of it this way: If Windows will create an Android version of Metro UI for Windows 8, it will be BlueStacks.

\"BlueStacks

There are 10 pre-loaded apps that you can use out of the box and you can add 26 more of your favorite apps.

\"BlueStacksUsing BlueStacks Cloud Connect, you can sync your favorite apps from your Android phone to your PC. It looks good on demo and it has a great potential to make all your favorite Android apps run on PC as well.

At the moment BlueStacks only released the App Player (alpha) and because it is still on alpha, expect it to have bugs. Some of the applications that comes with it seems to be buggy. For example, in Bloomberg application, you cannot edit My Stocks. Using BlueStacks Channel, I cannot use applications that I have synced using Cloud Connect from my phone. Only the featured apps work. Maybe this is a limitation because BlueStacks is still working on App Player Pro, or maybe Cloud Connect is not yet really working. I\’m not sure. Again, this is a very early version of BlueStacks so it is not yet final.

\"BlueStacks

Most applications that I tried to install failed to install because of INSTALL_FAILED_CPU_ABI_INCOMPATIBLE error. This is because most APK out there contain binary code aimed for ARM-based devices and not for x86 computers. So perhaps with App Player Pro, it will fool the \”premium\” applications that they are running on ARM-based device.

I was successful in installing BlueStacks on Windows 7 64-bit but there are reports that it is not compatible with Windows XP. Mac version will be available later.

Even though only a select amount of applications can run with this alpha version of BlueStacks, it is by far the easiest way to run Android on PC.

Watch the BlueStacks App Player demo after the break:

Read more

Firefox 7 Performance and Memory Handling Is So Much Better

\"FirefoxFinally, after many years of poor memory handling, Firefox 7 introduced the best feature added in Firefox recently – improved memory handling.

Firefox 7 Performance

Mozilla claims that the improvement is often 20% to 30% less memory usage but users can observe up to 50% less memory consumption with Firefox 7. To prove that, Lifehacker tested browser speeds.  The contenders were Firefox 7, Chrome 14, Internet Explorer 9 and Opera 11. At the end of the test, Opera came out on the top place overall, followed by Firefox, Internet Explorer and lastly, Google Chrome.

Below is one of the benchmark results for memory usage using 5 extensions. It shows that Chrome 14 is the poorest web browser with extensions in memory handling. This is a big win for Firefox because it seems that Google Chrome is adding more bloat in every iteration.\"memory

I did my own tests. I opened more than 10 tabs with JavaScript-intensive websites like Gmail, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and my WordPress admin panel. I also watched several YouTube videos without updating Flash to the latest version. Take note that I also have a dozen add-ons installed.

At the start of my test, Firefox is consuming about 350 MB and it slowly climbed 600 MB after I opened more tabs. I let the tabs open for several minutes and closed the tabs one by one. I monitored the memory consumption and  I\’m impressed that the memory consumption is depleting. I let one tab open and the memory consumption hovered 380 MB only. Before upgrading to Firefox 7, Firefox memory consumption will never go down below 500 MB if I do the same test.

So, it is true! Firefox 7 uses much less memory than Firefox 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Other New Features

To continuously improve future versions, Mozilla added an opt-in system (telemetry) to send performance data. This is helpful to make future Firefox releases leaner and faster.

Just in case you did not allow Firefox to collect anonymous data the first time, you can enable it here by going to…

Options -> Advanced -> General (tab)-> Check the \"Submit performance data\" checkbox.

\"Firefox

Apart from improved memory handling, Firefox Sync is also improved. It now syncs almost instantly.

Firefox 7 added a new rending back-end that speeds up Canvas operations on Windows. Also added are support for  text-overflow: ellipsis, Web Timing specification and improved support for MathML.

For the complete release notes of Firefox 7 desktop version, check this out. We can expect 2 more major releases from Firefox this year. Up next, Firefox 8.

Read more

Windows 8 Preview Unvieled, Also Available for Download

Microsoft finally presented the first public preview of Windows 8 in the BUILD Conference in Anaheim, CA and from here, we learned many details of the up-coming version of Windows.

Windows 8 New User Interface

Let\’s begin with the user interface. It seems that \”Metro-style UI\” is the buzz word around Windows 8 after the conference. Live tiles, vivid colors, multi-touch gestures – these are just a few characteristics you can associate with the new interface called Metro UI.

Metro UI sits on top of the familiar Windows 7 look and feel. You can still install desktop apps as usual but Metro UI gives new user experience for touchscreen devices including tablets.

If you use Windows Phone 7, the experience would be somewhat similar.

\"Windows

Outside Metro UI,  ribbon will be featured in Windows Explorer which means it will be practically available in the entire operating system.

Even the dreaded BSoD got a face-lift. It is now more user-friendly but probably not as helpful as the former BSoD screen because it has little details on what cause the problem. Since it is still very early to judge Windows 8, it is a good step forward.

\"Windows

No Windows 8 \”Tablet\”, Just Windows 8 PC?

To be clear, Windows 8 will run on a wide range of devices including tablets, netbooks, laptops and desktops — but Microsoft is hesitant to call tablets tablets as they insist that any device that runs Windows 8 is a PC, while any device that function as a phone is a Windows Phone. As TechCrunch puts it, if Microsoft can\’t win the table race, they won\’t acknowledge the existence of tablets.Maybe it is just a marketing thing.

I don\’t agree that Microsoft is not acknowledging tablets. They are using the term tablet PC since Windows XP Tablet PC edition. However, this time it seems that they are not going to differentiate tablets from laptops and desktops when Windows 8 is shipped.Who knows maybe Microsoft will have a change of  heart at the last-minute and create tablet-specific edition again.

In one of the demo, Microsoft showed a tablet that docks on a keyboard paired with a mouse. Somehow the thin line that separates tablets from PC is blurred if you consider that tablets are just laptops without physical keyboard and laptops are portable PCs. In essence, they are all personal computers.

PC, laptop or tablet. Call it whatever you want. At the end of the day, they are all computing devices and speaking of tablets, Mashable has a great review of Samsung Windows 8 tablet.

Improved Performance and More Hardware Choices

According to Microsoft, the memory footprint of Windows 8 will be reduced and the boot time will be decreased. For example,  Windows 8 preview build 8102 boots up in under 13 seconds from Samsung\’s Series 7 Slate PC with Intel 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M CPU with integrated graphics and 4 GB of RAM which was given away to 5000 developers who attended the conference. How I wish that Microsoft will also give away this \”developer PC\” to curious developers and testers like me outside US.

I think this is the first time that Microsoft have considered efficiency on smaller form factors without sacrificing core features of the operating system.

Microsoft finally figured out that they need to make Windows more efficient in more portable devices to them more ubiquitous. Windows 8 will be open to mobile devices processors like ARM which is designed to consume less energy.

Windows App Store

Of course there will be an app store too. If you look at the first screen shot here, that is the orange square at the bottom left.

The store is not yet open for business but Microsoft has already published the steps for  app submissions:

  • Step 1: Pre-processing (1 hour)
  • Step 2: Security test (3 hours)
  • Step 3: Technical Compliance (6 hours)
  • Step 4: Content Compliance (6 hours)
  • Step 5: Signing and Publishing (2 hours)
  • Step 6: Release

This could mean that apps can get approved in less than 24 hours unlike Apple approval process that takes much longer. I\’ll give it the benefit of the doubt because it\’s not yet open for business.

\"Windows

Windows Developer Preview Downloads

Luckily for those who wish to test the pre-released Windows 8 Preview, Microsoft put it for download. It may contain a lot of bugs and it should be used in production environment — strictly for testing only. Would you believe that it has been download over 500,000 already in less than 12 hours! I\’m sure Windows fanatics cannot wait anymore for the newest Windows operating system. Unfortunately, Windows 8 is still far from being finished. I will probably wait 1 to 2 years.

If you have a spare laptop I recommend to install Windows 8 Preview and play with it.

Paul Thurrott had put up a gallery for installing Windows 8 preview which is very useful for beginners. His Windows 8 terminology lists is also a good read.

You can get the installer from Windows Dev Center, then head to Windows Developer Preview downloads where you can download several versions of Windows 8 preview.

 

According to Microsoft, the future of computing is here. Windows 8 is a bold move to battle the growing influence of Apple in the post-PC era.

To learn more about Windows 8 Preview you can read the official News Press Release from Microsoft about Windows 8.

 

 

Read more

Mobile Threat Trends

One advantage of iOS devices like iPhone is that it is a controlled ecosystem. The apps must be approved first and it is tested by Apple before users can buy it in iTunes.

In Android, it\’s different because it is open. Think of Android as PC. Most of mobile threats in the wild targets this open ecosystem. It doesn\’t mean that iOS devices are free from malware specially if it is jailbroken; it just happened that Android phone users are the easier target.

Lookout released a Mobile Threat Report last month and if you have not seen it yet, the good folks in Lookout put up an infographics (see below) illustrating the realities in mobile threat trends.  Here are the highlights of the report:

  • Both web-based and app-based threats are increasing in prevalence and sophistication.
  • Android users are two and a half times as likely to encounter malware today than 6 months ago and three out of ten Android owners are likely to encounter a web-based threat on their device each year.
  • An estimated half million to one million people were affected by Android malware in the first half of 2011; Android apps infected with malware went from 80 apps in January to over 400 apps cumulative in June 2011.
  • Attackers are deploying a variety of increasingly sophisticated techniques to take control of the phone, personal data, and money. Additionally, malware writers are using new distribution techniques, such as malvertising and upgrade attacks.

\"Mobile

Click here for bigger image.

If you want to know more, you may also download the 25-page report from Lookout.

Read more

Firefox 6 Mobile and Desktop Officially Out

Few days earlier Firefox 6 is already available in Mozilla FTP but today is the official roll out of the online update for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux as well the mobile version in Android, exactly 8 weeks after the previous version.

Let me go straight ahead to what\’s new in Firefox 6. There isn\’t much actually. Aesthetically Firefox 6 feels and looks like Firefox 4.2 but there are some useful things added and tweaked in this new version.

The first noticeable change in Firefox 6 is the highlighting of the domain name. As you can see below. The domain is in black while the sub-domain and the page address are in gray.

\"Firefox

There is also more streamlined look of the site identity block and there is a new Web Developer menu too where development related items are all put together in one single place. If you are a web developer, this is a great addition. I really like the new Scratchpad tool because it makes debugging and refining  JavaScript easier.

Firefox Sync is now available in the main menu as well to make it even more easy to discover.

\"Firefox

I believe one of the more significant addition is the about:permissions data management window. Ghacks has a review about this new tool.

\"Firefox

Firefox has also improved the start-up time when using Panorama. I don\’t use this feature personally because I don\’t load a bunch of grouped tabs on start-up. For power users, this may come in handy and improve the overall experience.

Mozilla has also added support for the latest draft version of WebSockets with a prefixed API, EventSource / server-sent events and window.matchMedia and improved Web Console usability. If you haven\’t noticed it yet, most of these are targeted for web developers. You can take a look on the long list of changes for web developers in Mozilla Developer Network.

Of course on top of all these, Mozilla fixed several stability issues and security issues with Firefox 6.

Here\’s a bonus review on the mobile version of Firefox 6.

\"Firefox\"Firefox\"Firefox

It has a new look that is more consistent with the Android UI. It comes in black background instead of gray. It also has improved compatibility with SwiftKey keyboard, better page load speed and faster panning responsiveness. The  fonts and buttons are now optimized for tablets as well.

I also noticed that when you touch a link you will get a bright yellow highlight marking what you have just touched similar to the Android internet browser.

To end this, I think web developers should be happy that this release is very much targeted to them since most of the changes are related to web development features that will propel further development in Firefox. I tested the memory consumption which is the number one problem for me right now. It remains high after this update but it is expected that Mozilla will optimize the memory consumption of Firefox for the next iteration. In the next update, we will see more version number inflation.

Up next is Firefox 7 which is expected to be released on 27th of September this year.

Read more