Adobe Flash may be dying the slowest death of any software platform that’s ever existed. And it’s about to move even closer to its demise, based on a recent announcement from Google. The search engine and internet services giant has announced that it will stop Flash from loading by default for most websites in its popular Google Chrome web browser.
Google won’t be completely removing or blocking Flash in Chrome. The new default state for the browser will keep Flash from automatically running when a website tries to load a Flash-based player. Instead, Chrome will force websites properly configured with HTML5 players to load those players first. Users will be able to configure the browser to use Flash first if they really want to. Some sites, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, and Amazon will still have Flash enabled by default. But that exemption will only last for one year.
The tech community at large has been watching the slow decline of Flash popularity for about a decade now. In its heyday, Flash was used for everything from in-browser video games and online applications to web-based audio and video players. But when Apple launched its first iPhone, the company was adamant that the device would never, ever support Flash natively. This decision may have led to quicker and wider adoption of HTML5, a web standard that made it easier to deliver rich content thru the internet.
Flash is often derided for its many security issues and its need for constant updates. This move by Google will surely put another nail into Flash’s coffin. I doubt anyone will really be disappointed.
Over the past few days it has come to light that Google was blocking all bit.ly links as if they were malicious. That quickly became a real problem around the web, as many services use the URL shortening service. This made things even harder for folks using the ever-growing Chromebook platform, as there is no way around a problem such as this.
Now, according to security researcher Graham Cluley, as well as other sources, the problem has now been solved. “It appears the issue has now been resolved”, Cluley reports, after initially revealing that “it seems bit.ly has made its way onto Google’s list of sites that aren’t safe to browse to”.
Bit.ly has so far not commented on the problem and it appears there was never a real danger. However, link shortening services have been known to be used to hide the real link in an effort to get a user to a malicious site and bit.ly did suffer an attack earlier this year. That seems to be unrelated to this incident, though.
For now, customers may wish to keep an eye on the service’s blog for any information regarding this incident.
There are times when only hard copy will do but anyone who has tried to print from a tablet will know that it’s not always easy. The main ecosystems from Apple and Google have their own printer strategies with AirPrint and Cloud Print respectively but support is spotty at best. Several printer manufacturers have gone so far as to create their own printer app which really is a pretty poor state of affairs.
Into this gap steps Lantronix with their xPrintServer Cloud Print Edition, the first Google-certified Cloud Print server which lets Android and ChromeOS devices print wirelessly to network and USB printers. Sweet.
The unit is about the size of a smartphone and requires no additional software downloads or printer drivers. It’s simply a case of connecting the device to the network and it automatically finds the printers on the network, making them available to users. The xPrintServer Cloud Print Edition supports any device running Google’s Chrome browser, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, PC or laptop. Apparently there are over 310 million active users of Chrome, so that’s quite a few people who might want to print. Business users of Google Apps are supported too. Details of the printers supported are available from Lantronix’s website.
This new xPrintServer joins the existing Home and Office Editions which provide print services for iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad.
The Cloud Print Edition sells for an MSRP of US$149.95 and will ship at the end of February 2014. Pre-orders are being taken now and potential customers can sign up at lantronix.com for more information and availability. Of course, if you are at CES, you can pop round to their stand for a quick demo.
While researching the Philips Hue Android apps, I discovered that currently there is a single Hue app for Chrome. It’s called Hueful and while it’s fairly basic, it deserves a mention as (a) it’s the only app on Chrome but (b) it shows that Chrome can support this kind of hardware-oriented app. Previously I would have discounted Chrome from being an option but Hueful works fine on my Chromebook.
Hueful isn’t a very advanced Hue app, being limited to setting colours of selected lamps and colour cycling. Sometimes lamps need to be told twice to take on a setting but they usually get there in the end.
Hueful is free from the Chrome store.
Google is taking aim at the PC market with its increasingly better offerings of Chromebook hardware. Now the search giant is also touting “family safe” as one of its selling points.
If you are using the beta channel version of Chrome, you now have access to monitor and control what other users access through the browser/operating system. “Let’s say you’ve recently purchased the new HP Chromebook 11 and want to share it with your son. He’ll be able to use your Chromebook as a supervised user. This means once you’ve created a supervised user for him on your Chromebook, you’ll be able to visit chrome.com/manage to review a history of web pages he has visited, determine sites that you want to allow or block, and manage permissions for any blocked websites he has requested to view”, says Google’s Pam Green.
The feature is called “Supervised Users” and has been in testing in the Canary build for sometime. Canary, if you aren’t familiar, is the cutting -edge version of the browser that customers can opt for — at their own risk.
With the death of Google Reader earlier this year, many net denizens were left scrambling for an alternative — and issuing a few choice words to Google upon departure. While countless (exaggeration) alternatives exised, most would up landing on Feedly. In fact, the service did an admirable job scrambling to add bandwidth and servers to face the influx head-on.
While the app does a decent job, there are certainly still complaints to be made about its shortcomings — lack of alphabetical order that results in a chaotic looking feed is mine.
Though that one has not been fixed by Feedly, extension or user script, other tweaks can be made. For instance, how about the ability to add a feed right from the site you are on and without even knowing the RSS address? That is what “Add to Feedly” can do, providing you are using the Chrome web browser.
The extension places an icon in your menu bar that, when clicked from any site, will automatically determine the RSS feed associated with a website and offer you an option to add it to your Feedly subscriptions.
This is one option that helps to soften the Google Reader blow just a bit, by adding a feature that we did not previously have access to in that old RSS program.
Yesterday on the Chrome blog, Google announced that new Chromebooks from Acer, Asus, HP and Toshiba were on their way. Arriving in the next few months the new Chromebooks are based on Intel’s Haswell chips rather than the current ARM processors and the chip’s low power consumption will double the battery life.
These new Chromebooks are (roughly) the third iteration of the laptops and it’s great to see new entrants, Asus and Toshiba, joining the party. HP’s new Chromebook 14 will be out before the holiday season, cost $300 and come in a range of colours. Although Acer will be bringing out a new model as well, there’s no news on whether Samsung will be refreshing its line-up. The eye-wateringly expensive Pixel seems to remain the only touch-screen model in the range but that could change as details emerge on the new models.
Google quotes that in the sub-$300 computer segment, Chromebooks have taken a little less than a quarter of the market and around 5,000 US schools have also provided Chromebooks to students. For a product that’s just 2 years old, it’s pretty impressive.
I’m looking forward to the new models as I’m currently using a Samsung Chromebook to write this article and I’m bought into a web and cloud-centric view, especially for people who actually want to get stuff done wherever they are. Neat, low-cost, instant-on devices with a keyboard make Chromebooks very handy to have around. More apps are appearing, particularly business ones and if you haven’t considered a Chromebook in the past, you might want to consider one.
There have been hints and rumors circulating for several weeks that Google would bring its popular Now feature over from Android and into the Chrome web browser. Now, pun-intended, it seems is that time, but only a little bit.
The latest build of Canary, the development channel version of Chrome, has been updated to version 28 and with it comes a Now feature that users can enable. Canary can thankfully be run side-by-side with a stable or beta build of the browser so that users are not forced to run it full-time — a good thing since it can be buggy at times.
Today, when I fired up Canary build 28 and accessed chrome://flags I found the ability to enable Now (it is disabled by default). You will need to scroll all the way to the bottom of the Flags page to find it, as it is the last entry. Click “Enable”, but do not get your hopes up yet. It is early, and so far it does exactly nothing. The Google Now server URL still remains secret, rendering the service useless for the time being.
Still, this means the service is coming to your computer, though I expect it to be less useful here than on an Android device that moves around with you, but it remains to be seen what Google may add to a computer version of it.
As of today Google Chrome browser is now available on iOs devices. Now you can sync your tabs between your computer, any android device you have and your iOs device. So if you open a tab on your Chrome browser on your desktop, it will be available under Other Devices on your mobile device in almost realtime. I did have to refresh the page for the new url to show up. You go from tab to tab by swiping with one finger and the edge of the page. Like any Chrome browser you can search or type in a url from the same search bar. You can also search in incognito mode. Which means it will not show up in your search history. To get to the incognito tab, other devices, bookmarks, find in page and settings just tap on the icon with four lines in the top left hand corner. You can also email a page directly from the browser by tapping the same icon and then email.
I think that most users will not notice the speed differences, after all we are talking about at the most seconds. The biggest strike against the Chrome browser on iOs is it isn’t the default browser. Unfortunately only Apple can fix this problem and they are unlikely to do that.
In this episode of Chrome Show I talk about productivity apps and some nice extensions to help you find what you need in a hurry. Make sure you visit the ChromeShow.com website!
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