Tag Archives | Google Chrome

Cloud Save: The Chrome Extension That Shouldn’t Be an Extension

I consider myself optimistic about Google’s vision for completely web-based computing, but it’s not going to happen without an online storage solution that can replace the act of saving files locally.

Cloud Save, a new extension for Google’s Chrome browser (spotted first by DownloadSquad), takes us part way there. The extension adds an option in Chrome’s right click menu that lets you save files directly to online storage services such as Box.net, Flickr and Google Docs. You grant permission for Cloud Save to access each of these services the first time you save to them, and a notification box pops up when your file has saved successfully.

On the most basic level, Cloud Save eliminates a step if you’re trying to move a web file to an online service. If someone sends you a funny picture, for instance, you just Cloud Save it instead of downloading and then uploading. But by skipping that step, Cloud Save also bypasses the need for local storage when saving files from the web. It’s the kind of feature that Google should bake directly into Google’s Chrome OS, the web-based operating system that will launch in notebooks later this year.

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Firefox's Development Cycle to Get Faster

Likely in response to the fast-paced development of Google Chrome, Mozilla has announced it plans to accelerate the release cycle of its Firefox browser dramatically, with four major revisions of the browser expected by the end of the year. Chief among its goals are making the browser more nimble, as well as building social aspects into the platform and support for more hardware and platforms.

Seems like a solid plan considering the fragmentation of the hardware world as of late, and consumer’s increasing appetite for social networking. But I think the most important thing here is the focus on stability.

It’s no secret on some platforms Firefox is not so stable. I’ve had problems with crashing and sluggish behavior at times on Mac OS X, and have noticed others have had similar issues. Fixing these nagging issues should be a prority for Mozilla, as its competitors are more stable on Apple’s hardware.

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Gmail's Pinned Tab Tweak: More of This Everywhere, Please

What a difference the little things make.

Before today, I hadn’t found much use for Google Chrome’s pinned tabs, which you can stick to the side of the screen by left clicking any tab and selecting “pin tab” from the drop-down menu. They’d be great for social and message-based Websites that you want to leave open all the time, but without the ability to show dynamic activity, such as unread messages in Gmail, pinned tabs don’t live up to their potential.

A new feature in Gmail Labs called “Unread message icon” addresses that issue for Google’s mail service, at least. Activating the feature adds a count of unread messages to Gmail’s pinned tab favicon, so you no longer have to switch tabs to see how many e-mails are waiting. With this information available at a glance, I may no longer have to confine Gmail to its own browser window.

But why stop there? Google should now extend pinned tab notifications to third-parties. Make it a feature of the Chrome Web Store, so TweetDeck’s app can let you know when someone’s pinged you on Twitter, or so chat apps can tell you exactly how many messages are waiting. Heck, add notifications to the Chrome home screen, so those web app icons don’t seem so much like glorified bookmarks. (A bunch of apps with numeric badges on them would, after all, look a bit like the iOS home screen.)

For now, an extension called Favicon Alerts provides a nice workaround: It appends message counts to pinned tabs for any website that displays this kind of information in the title bar.


Google Explains Its H.264 Move At Greater Length

Just about all the discussion I’ve seen of Google’s decision to dump Chrome’s native support for video in the H.264 format has been negative–and Google didn’t help things by announcing the move in a terse, bland blog post. Now the company has taken a second pass at explaining its rationale. I don’t think it’ll leave most of the unhappy campers any more gruntled, but it’s good to see Google delve into the topic at greater length.

Google’s response does underline that the browser business has a basic problem: Everyone agrees that browsers should have the built-in ability to play video, but there’s no agreement whatsoever on the standards to permit this. (Internet Explorer and Safari use H.264; Firefox, Opera, and now Chrome use Google’s WebM and the older Ogg Theora.) Most normal human beings couldn’t care less about this and simply want video to play on all the devices they use, ideally with high-quality results and without killing their battery. As far as I can tell, the industry is making no progress whatsoever towards unification, and Google’s move–whatever the reason–simply confuses matters even more.


Why Wouldn't You Want Apps?

[NOTE: Here’s the lead story from last week’s Technologizer’s T-Week newsletter–go here to sign up to receive it each Friday. You’ll get original stuff that won’t show up on the site until later, if at all.]

Cr-48 notebookI’ve been having fun fooling around with Google’s Cr-48 notebook, the experimental machine which runs its Chrome OS. (The company is doling out thousands of Cr-48 test units, but Chrome OS laptops won’t go on sale until next year.) I even took the Cr-48 on a long-weekend trip and pretty much got everything done that I needed to do. (For instance, I wrote this column on it, using Google Docs.)

But when I returned home from my trip, I put the Cr-48 away and haven’t returned to it since. I’m sure I’ll revisit it. But for now, given a choice between a Chrome OS laptop and a traditional laptop (my MacBook Air), I’m opting for the latter.

How come? It’s simple, really: Chrome OS both giveth and taketh away. What it giveth is simplicity and security–since it’s pretty much just a Web browser that’s sprouted stubby little legs that let it function (just barely) as an operating system, there’s very little that can go wrong. It boots and snaps out of suspend mode in a jiffy; it’s almost impossible to lose data, since it’s all stored in the cloud; it should be as close to impervious to viruses and trojans as a computing device can be.

But Google accomplished all this by creating an operating system that can’t run local applications. And for now, at least, losing local apps is a gigantic downside. If you’re in love with the notion of a Web-only computer, you may love the Cr-48; if you just want to accomplish stuff, it’s a work in progress at best.
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The Promise and Pitfalls of Cloud Computing

Here’s this week’s Technologizer column on TIME.com. It was inspired by spending time with Google’s Cr-48 Chrome notebook:

Even if I have a tough time imagining myself recommending Chrome computers to typical consumers as soon as the first half of 2011, I’m glad that they exist. The very existence of Chrome OS should encourage the development of sophisticated next-generation Web services that are better able to replace traditional software. By 2012 or 2013, pure cloud computing could feel far more tenable than it does right now — and if it does, the experiment known as Cr-48 will deserve some of the credit.

Here’s another update on my attitude towards the Cr-48. I’m out of town for the holidays, and while I took the Cr-48 with me as my only computer on my last trip, I decided to tote my MacBook Air this time. If the Cr-48 could be made to run Photoshop, I might have taken it instead…

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Living With Google Instant in Chrome

Last week, a new version of Google Chrome went into beta, adding a bunch of features including 3D support, sandboxing of Flash and Google Instant from within Chrome’s omnibar.

Instant, which in the browser loads search results and entire web pages as you type them, isn’t enabled by default, probably because it could confuse people who aren’t expecting it. But not me! After nearly a week of living with Google Instant in Chrome here are a few thoughts on how it works.

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All Web Apps are “Glorified Bookmarks”

Whether you love or hate the idea of Google’s Chrome Web Store, you’ve got appreciate the discussion it’s provoked on the nature of web apps.

So far, a prevailing criticism is that many of the store’s offerings aren’t really web apps at all. They’re just glorified bookmarks to existing websites, at least according to some folks who’ve written user reviews. And if they’re just glorified bookmarks, why do they even exist?

We’ll get to that question shortly. But first, I want to challenge the term “glorified bookmark” as a pejorative. Because really, everything in the Chrome Web Store is nothing more than a link to another website. That’s the point.

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Chrome Web Apps Scream for Tablets, HTPCs

For the better part of this afternoon, I’ve been gorging on apps from the Chrome Web Store, which went live today. Yes, I’m easily lured by the prospect of hoarding bubbly little icons that appear on my web browser’s home screen.

And yet, I have very little interest in using many of these apps on my laptop, where productivity reigns. My most frequently-used tools and websites — Gmail, Google Reader, WordPress, Pixlr, Bit.ly and so on — were bookmarked long ago. Chances are the Chrome Web Store is only going to slow me down.

But for leisure, Chrome’s web apps are killer. Once this blog post is wrapped, I’m headed straight to my home theater PC to install a boatload of video apps, music players and games. (I’ll share my favorites before I go.) And the app craze is clearly clouding my better judgment, because if Google was selling a Chrome OS tablet right now, there’s a good chance I’d buy one on impulse.

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