ARChon Brings App Runtime for Chrome Outside ChromeOS

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2014 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: chrome os, chrome, google, Android

Last week, we reported on Google's App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) beta release. Its goal is to bring apps from the Google Play Store to ChromeOS through an Android stack built atop Native Client. They are sandboxed, but still hardware-dependent for performance. Since then, vladikoff on GitHub has published ARChon, a project which brings that initiative to desktop OSes.

archon-project.jpg

Image Credit: ARChon Project

To use Archon, you will need to use an x86-64 version of Chrome 37 (or later) on Windows, Mac, or Linux. This project is not limited to the handful of ARC-compatible apps that Google officially supports. The Android apps need to be converted into Chrome extensions using a tool, also available, called chromeos-apk. In fact, the example app is an open source version of the game, 2048, rather than just the four launch apps from Google.

Whether Google intends to offer this, officially, with their Chrome browser is the most interesting part for me. I would prefer that everything just works everywhere but, failing that, having a supported Android platform on the desktop without dual-booting or otherwise displacing the host itself could be interesting. And yes, Bluestacks exists, but it has not been something that I would recommend, at least in my experience of it.

Source: ARChon

Chrome officially hits the 64-bit era

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2014 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: chrome, 64-bit

The new version of Chrome can now supports 64-bit if you so choose to install that version of Google's browser.  The ability to address more memory is not the only benefit to this new version, it is also optimized for the P9 codec used for Youtube HD which The Inquirer was told now processes 15% more quickly and they agreed that it felt generally faster when using the new browser to surf.  The new version should also offer improved protection from memory layout vulnerabilities so it is certainly worth using on your 64 bit machine.

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"GOOGLE'S 64-BIT EDITION of the Chrome web browser for Windows has been declared stable with the release of Chrome 37."

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Source: The Inquirer

Chrome might be less polite than you think

Subject: General Tech | January 24, 2014 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: google, chrome, snooping, mic

If you have never heard the phrase "Those who eavesdrop hear nothing good about themselves" you are in good company as Google Chrome has not either.  A developer by the name of Tal Ater has discovered that Chrome can enable your microphone when you view certain malicious websites without your knowledge.  According to Google's online documentation, when Chrome enables your microphone you should see both a blinking red light appear in the tab you are viewing and a persistent icon in the system tray.  Unfortunately when The Register saw a test, the site created a pop-under window which displayed the red light and was not visible until the other browsing session was closed or moved, nor was there a system tray icon.  Even more worrying, the initial specification called for recording to be disabled when the tab with access to the mic was not active but was never implemented.

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"A design flaw in the Chrome browser allows malicious websites to use your computer's microphone to eavesdrop on you, one developer has claimed, although Google denies this is the case."

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Source: The Register

Need another reason to upgrade from WinXP? You might be stuck with IE

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2013 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: winxp, firefox, chrome, browser

With 160 days remaining until the current official support expiration for WinXP unless you are willing to pay for the privilege of getting critical updates there is only a little time left in which third party providers need to continue support for the aging OS.  Two of the most noticeable of these will be Firefox and Chrome, both of which will be discontinuing development for their browsers on WinXP.  Their older versions will still work but will slowly succumb to more and more security vulnerabilities as they are discovered but not patched for WinXP.  This may not be the straw that breaks XP's back but recall that YouTube abandoning IE6 support was one of the driving forces behind the decline of that browser.  Slashdot comments for your entertainment here.

An update to this information does show that you have a while to go before this is a major concern as Firefox does not have a specific date in mind and Chrome is extending development for a few years yet.  You should still really consider upgrading to Win7 in the near future.

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"While Windows XP is still going strong the sun is rapidly setting on this old platform fast. Firefox plans to end support for XP which means no security fixes or improvements. Chrome is being discontinued a little later as well for Windows XP. Windows XP has its die-hard users refusing to upgrade as they prefer the operating system or feel there is no need to change."

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Source: Slashdot

Beware the click-jacking Captcha of Evil!

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2013 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: Malware, IE10, chrome, security

Just in case you weren't already getting tired of captchas there is a new click-jacking technique which works on both IE9 and 10 in Windows 7 and also on Chrome for Windows 8 so for the time being you might want to avoid any captchas that begin with an 'R'.  The new Smartscreen features on Win8 as well as UAC should give you at least some defense and require you to allow the exectuable to run and infect your machine but you can be guaranteed that some less observant users will click straight through without reading the messages which appear.  While this type of attack is nothing new, the particular technique mentioned at The Register does have some new tricks.

CAPTCHA.jpg

"A security researcher has discovered a sneaky social engineering trick that might be used to disguise the go-ahead to run hostile code on Windows 8 machines.

The so-called keyjacking technique, uncovered by Italian security researcher Rosario Valotta, is similar to clickjacking. However, instead of fooling marks into generating fake Facebook likes, the keyjacking involves disguising a "run executable" dialogue box within a CAPTCHA challenge."

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Source: The Register

Android Version of Chrome May Get SPDY Proxy Speed Boost

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2013 - 02:17 AM |
Tagged: web browser, mobile, chrome, Android

Chrome for Android will allegedly be getting a speed boost thanks to a new SPDY-assisted proxy service. If a recent patch is any indication, future versions of Chrome may adopt a proxy service similar to Opera Turbo, Amazon Silk, or BlackBerry Proxy. Google would take advantage of its SPDY protocol to compress and multiplex web sites. We requests would be sent through Google, where Google would take the HTTP/HTTPS pages, compress and otherwise optimize them, and send them to your Android smartphone.

 

Chrome for Android.png

While on Wi-Fi or a wired connection, the performance merits of such proxy services are minimal at best (and at worst can actually slow down page loads). With that said, over a mobile network--especially if you are living in an area with (at best) 3G speeds, the new SPDY proxy service could make a huge difference in page load times. If my experiences using Opera and its Turbo proxy service over a 3G connection for the past month is any indication of the potential benefits of such a setup, some pages will load much faster, a few sites will actually load slower than browsing without the proxy, and the majority of websites will fall somewhere in between those two extremes, providing a slightly faster web browsing experience. Google may be taking things a step further by introducing its SPDY protocol to speed up the HTTP requests, which is an interesting tactic beyond the basic compression and/or caching that the existing alternatives employ.

Details on the hinted-at Google-run SPDY proxy service are scarce, but I hope that it holds true. There are some privacy considerations, but if you are just reading articles and have resigned yourself to the fact that Chrome/Google tracks you anyway (heh) it is a nice optional feature to have!

Source: Engadget

Internet Explorer Still Most Popular Web Browser in 2013

Subject: General Tech | March 2, 2013 - 11:58 PM |
Tagged: web browser, market share, internet explorer, chrome

Net Market Share has released statistics on the state of browser market share as of last month (February 2013). The numbers indicate that Internet Explorer is still the dominant browser on the desktop, with Firefox and Chrome coming in second and third place respecitvely. Interesting, the situation is reversed on the mobile front, with Internet Explorer being greatly surpased by Apple’s Safari in the top spot.

On the desktop browser front, Internet Explorer experienced year over year growth to 55.52% in February 2013. Firefox market share remained fairly stable YoY, ending up with 20.12%. Further, Chrome saw a slight YoY decline to 16.27%. Additionally, Safari and Opera sustained 5.42% and 1.82% market share in February 2013. Both browsers’ slice of the market remained fairly stable throughout the year. It will be interesting to see if Opera’s switch to WebKit will net the browser additional market share (RIP Presto).

 

Desktop Web Browser Market Share Bar Graph.png

Ars Technica further compiled charts on the specific browser versions used. While the majority of IE users are running version 8 and 9 (with IE 6 sadly being the thrid most popular version), Chrome and Firefox users are spread out fairly evenly between the different versions. That may have more to do with Chrome and Firefox’s accelerated versioning/updating though.

For mobile, Apple’s Safari browser leads the pack with 55.41% as of February 2013, which is surprisingly a YoY decline. Meanwhile, the stock Android web browser gained ground throughout the year, ending up with a market share of 22.85%. Opera Mini came in third place with 12.72% market share. Other interesting numbers include Chrome with 1.96%, Internet Explorer (mobile) with 1.58%, and BlackBerry with 0.96%. Further, Symbian has 1.37% market share, which puts it above BlackBerry and just under Internet Explorer. Not bad for a dying mobile OS!

 

Mobile Web Browser Market Share_1.png

I was fairly surprised by the Internet Explorer numbers, but when taking into account work machines and Windows’ dominance (and users that generally use the default browser--power users excluded of course) I suppose it makes sense. I do wish that the IE6 numbers would fall a bit more though, even it if it just users moving to a newer version of IE.

You can find the full Net Market Share report here. What browser(s) do you use on a daily basis?

Source: Ars Technica

Google I/O 2012: Day One

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2012 - 10:48 AM |
Tagged: tablet, google io, google drive, google, developers, conference, chrome, asus, Android

Every June, the tech world lights up with numerous tech conferences that pack dense information into a couple days (and takes weeks to fully decompress). One of the bigger conferences (by a single company, Computex is its own beast) is Google I/O.

The biggest rumor to come out concerning this year’s Google I/O announcements is an ASUS manufactured 7-inch Nexus Tablet. It is allegedly packing some high end hardware with the Tegra 3 Soc, up to 16GB of memory, IPS display, and an extremely attractive price at less than $200. Beyond that, we can expect Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) information, developer talks, software demos, and more talk of Google Wallet, and NFC technology. Heck, Google may even make a second attempt at pushing Android@Home (or maybe not heh).

io-live.png

Being June 27th, it is the first day of Google I/O and that means it is time for keynotes! On the schedule for today, Google has talks on the new aspects of Android, Google Play, cloud computing, Youtube cloud rendering, Google+ (including Hangouts), and new features of Google Maps. They also have talks scheduled with Google Drive information that should demo some of the things developers can do with the Drive SDK.

We are excited to see if the Nexus tablet rumors are true or not, as well as learning more about the latest version of Android. If you are interested in watching the event, check out the Google I/O schedule where you can tune into the most of the events live. The first event starts soon at 9:30am PST!

Check back later today for updates!

Update: (9:00 PST) A leaked screenshot indicates that the Nexus tablet may be called the Nexus 7.

Nexus7.jpg

Update: (9:30 PST) Vic Gondotra stepped on stage to kick off the Google I/O conference. He stated that there are more than 30,000 people in attendance.

googleio.jpg

What are you excited about at Google I/O? Let us know in the comments below!

See more updates after the break.

 

Source: Google I/O

Google Updates Chrome With Streamlined New Tab Page

Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2011 - 12:33 AM |
Tagged: Internet, google, chrome, browser

Google has been playing around with the "new tab" page in the beta and development builds of Chrome to streamline the interface, and the company has recently rolled one such update into the latest stable release of the popular browser.

Chrome_New New Tab Interface.png

The new tab page is the page that you are presented with when first firing up Chrome or hitting the new tab button(s).  The new interface is much more streamlined than the old one, and has rearranged several items.  The old interface showed everything all on one canvas; however, the updated new tab page has separated the most visited tabs from the Chrome Apps which now have their own page.  Users are able to navigate between the most visited tabs page and applications page by clicking on the tabs at the bottom of the screen or moving the mouse to the side of the browser window and using the arrows that appear upon mouse-over.

Chrome_Compare.png

Further, where the recently visited/closed web pages horizontal list resided below the most visited tabs on the old interface, in the new interface Google has decided to hide the recently used list.  It can now be accessed by clicking on a menu item in the bottom right corner of the browser window.

Chrome_Recently Closed.png

Google has also made it a bit easier to organize applications.  You can now click and drag applications around to organize them.  When clicking and holding an application, a new recycle bin option appears in the lower right corner of the window that will allow you to remove applications.  Removing is now a matter of clicking and dragging items into the "Remove from Chrome" area.  This remove / uninstall feature is also available when clicking and holding on the most visited tabs on the tabs page.  Finally, the various icons have been given a slight makeover and now are presented with a shiny mouse-over effect.

Google has provided a quick video overview of the interface changes.

Personally, after playing around with the new interface for a few hours now I prefer it to the old way of doing things as it allows for larger "most visited" icons due to having a greater percentage of the Chrome window area available to it (as opposed to the old interface where it was a bit crowded and things tended to fight to attention).  Further, I rarely use the applications, so having them hidden away in their own section is okay with me.  It definitely seems to have been (at least slightly) by tablets and touch interfaces; however, unlike Netflix's recent tablet inspired redesign i actually like the improvements Google has made.  What are your thoughts on the improvements?

Source: Google

Firefox versus Chrome; C++ versus JavaScript ... pouring salt on the browser war

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2011 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: native client, NaCl, javascript, firefox, chrome, c++, browser

The Browser War is about to heat up again as Google Chrome's native client is released at the same time that Intel is releasing updates to JavaScript to allow for parallel processing

Chrome's salty poke at browsers is to introduce a way to run C and C++ in a protected sandbox to allow a secure way to run the code on the web, similar to how Java and JavaScript are currently dealt with.  Using the segment registers on your CPU as a protected space Chrome will now accept and run C and C++ programs, hopefully creating a space in which code can run but not effect your system without your knowledge ... aka the drive-by attack familiar to Flash users.  This will give non-Java programmers the chance to program for the web in a way they have never done before as well as letting those who do not want to program in Java/JavaScript an alternative programming language.  It will take some time before we start to see anyone take advantage of this, let alone whether it will be able to compete with the current solutions already used on the web.

For the JavaScript fan there is good news coming out of the IDF, as Intel has been showing off River Trail and WebGL.  They have finally enabled JavaScript to take advantage of multi-core processors, the demonstration they provided had an eight core machine running a JavaScript app about 15 times faster than it performed with the non-updated code.  Even more interesting is what they plan to do with that performance increase; HTML5, Canvas, and WebGL are all compatible and can benefit from the true performance of multi-core processors.

Catch more on both of these stories and their history at The Register.

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"Google has officially launched Native Client – a means of securely running C and C++ code inside a browser – as part of a new stable version of its Chrome browser that activates this rather controversial sandboxing technology.

Mountain View turned on Native Client, aka NaCl, in the Chrome beta last month, and on Friday, it debuted in the new Chrome 14, a stable release that also includes Google's new Web Audio API."

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Source: The Register