Posts tagged Chrome

Chrome OS Hasn’t Conquered The World Yet, But Google Isn’t Giving Up

Chromebooks: Are you convinced yet?

Google has been proudly showing off some new Chromebooks and other goodies this week, and earlier in the month, we also got to gawk at a brand new Pixel, the flagship luxury model in the world of Chrome OS. It’s a reminder that, even though the bare bones, Web-based platform isn’t currently reaching large swathes of the market, Google’s not giving up.  

Despite its growing adoption and regular appearances in the best-selling laptop charts on Amazon, Chromebooks still account for just 5 percent of sales right now, according to one of the latest estimates. Pinning down hard figures for the Chrome OS market share is difficult, but whatever it is, most analysts agree it’s not very high

See also: Latest Bad Sign For Tablets: Chromebooks Outship iPads In Schools

Despite Google’s foothold being so small, Microsoft and Apple are sitting up and taking notice. You might be surprised at just how many low-price, low-spec Windows 10 notebooks we see this year—one rumor even points to $149 Windows laptop putting the Chromebook in its crosshairs this year. But Google is in this for the long haul, and it has plenty of reason to stick it out: With the rise of cloud-based services and lower hardware costs, Chrome OS’s chances for success look stronger than ever.

Ghosts Of Chrome OSes past

HP has its own line-up of Chromebooks.

Naturally Chrome OS starts with Chrome, the speedy, stripped-down browser that Google unveiled to the world in 2008. Little did we realize then that this represented more than just a rival to Internet Explorer and Firefox—it meant a very different approach to computing altogether. 

Chrome OS—an entire operating system based on the original browser—launched in July 2009. Even some six years later, it’s not difficult to remember the howls of derision that accompanied the first Chromebook. Here was a low-spec, limited computer that could do nothing but browse the Web, and which was pretty useless outside of a Wi-Fi signal. The question most of us asked at the time was: Why would you buy a Chromebook rather than a Windows or Mac machine running the Chrome browser? 

Back then, the premise of putting all of our apps and files in the cloud seemed a little obscure, but it makes a lot more sense in 2015. Web apps have become more powerful, and Wi-Fi, more ubiquitous. We’re living more and more of our lives online now. Power users may still cling to local versions of Photoshop and Excel, but there are huge numbers of people out there, from students to pensioners, who can live easily within a browser. The trend seems to be going in only one direction—toward the cloud. 

It’s not a difficult trend to spot, either. Since the first Chromebook debuted, we’ve seen major names like Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, Spotify and even iWork hit the Web (from Apple, the champion of the native app, no less). Now that broader development has caught up, the other benefits of Chrome OS become more relevant: seamless server-side app updates, no gradual slowdown in performance, no need for backups or security software, and so on. 

Chrome’s Shiny Future

The Asus Chromebit.

This week, the public got some indications of what’s next for Chrome OS, including lower prices and new devices, including some in new product categories. 

Two new models, the Haier Chromebook 11 and the Hisense Chromebook, give the public $149 laptops to ponder. They may not impress anyone in your office, but they’ll do quite nicely for the kids, grandparents or anyone else who just wants to browse websites. They’re cheaper than most smartwatches, and much more useful. 

Google also announced a brand-new gadget: the sub-$100 Chromebit from ASUS. Though it may look like a USB drive, the Chrome dongle houses a whole Chrome OS computer and an HDMI port, so people can use televisions and other screens as displays. Think of it like a Chromecast TV stick, but with extra smarts (or at least enough to get online). 

With these debuts, the USB-C-packing Pixel and business-oriented Chromeboxes, plus any other forthcoming products, there’s plenty of choice now—which is striking because, if you get past the packaging, they all essentially do the same thing: give you Web access through Chrome. But the growing family of devices shows how the platform has progressed since its debut in 2009. Chrome OS has become a go-anywhere operating system that’s as adaptable as it is streamlined. 

As for what the future holds, we could see closer integration between Chrome OS and Android. A full merger may not make sense right now, but eventually, it seems inevitable. Chrome OS now offers a tablet mode (ready for the Asus Chromebook Flip), while Google has also opened its App Runtime for Chrome up to all developers, so anyone can port their Android apps to run on Web platform. 

And let’s not forget where it all started: the Chrome browser. Still a popular choice on Windows, Mac and Linux, it remains Google’s Trojan horse into other companies’ operating systems, with millions of people effectively running Chrome on top of something else.

What looked like a joke in 2009 is beginning to look more and more like the future. Back then, the big question was, “Why would you buy a Chromebook?” The question now may be, “Why wouldn’t you?” 

The answer depends on whether you need the local applications to do some heavy lifting, like full-suite video or music editing, or want access to your file systems. In that way, Chrome OS still isn’t a one-size-fits-all operating system for all people, all of the time. But give it another six years, and the landscape is likely to look very different once again. 

Images courtesy of Google

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Microsoft May Launch A New Browser That Supports Chrome Extensions

Rumors are circulating that Microsoft is actually building a new web browser to compete with Google Chrome and Firefox, via this report from ZDNet.

The report cites unnamed sources as saying Microsoft’s browser project, code-named Spartan, will replace Internet Explorer and accompany Windows 10. There’s also this tweet from Thomas Nigro, a Microsoft Student Lead and and VLC developer:

If Spartan is indeed being built to compete with other, more popular browsers, it would make sense that it would be lightweight and support extensions like Chrome and Firefox. Doing that begs the question of whether such a browser would be ported to non-Windows devices, although recent Microsoft behavior indicated that it’s definitely a possibility.  

Contacted about the rumor, Microsoft said that it had “nothing to share” regarding any rumors of a new browser. 

Microsoft is expect to release Windows 10 sometime in the summer of 2015. A January 21 event designed to showcase Windows 10 features may shed more light on the Spartan browser rumor. 

Photo by Jorgan Kesseler.

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Friday Fun: Build Your First Chrome Extension

Google Chrome is the most popular Web browser in the world. Part of its appeal comes from its ability to let you fully customize your browsing experience with a slew of extensions. Extensions are small, lightweight programs that personalize your Chrome installation with new features.

You’ve probably already downloaded an extension or two. But did you know it’s almost as easy to build your own? Chrome extensions are written in a relatively beginner-friendly language—JavaScript—and require only two files to function.

Since they’re so easy to build, there are currently more than 53,000 extensions in the Chrome Web Store, ranging from productivity tools to stupid entertainments.

Today’s Project

Today we’re going to build a Chrome extension that isn’t particularly useful, though it’s sort of funny. We’ll be transforming Steven Frank’s Cloud to Butt Plus extension, which edits every Web page you visit by replacing the phrase “the cloud” with “my butt.” You can judge the results for yourself.

With Frank’s permission, we’ll be creating a derivative work out of his Cloud to Butt GitHub repository in order to build a “find and replace” extension of our own.

Since I rarely build a coding project that isn’t trolling my coworkers in some way, my example envisions the Web the way my Paleo editor Owen Thomas probably sees it. The Paleo diet puts carbohydrates off limits, so I decided to make his dietary choices simple by making “bread,” “pasta,” and related taboo foodstuffs less appealing to him on the Web.

My finished extension is on GitHub for anyone who wants to use it. Here’s how it works.

Anatomy Of An Extension

Extensions piggy-back off of existing Chrome functionality to add new features. This means anyone can build an extension using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, without having to learn to work with Chrome’s native code. As the Chrome Developer site promises:

If you’ve ever built a web page, you should feel right at home with extensions pretty quickly.

That’s quite an assertion, and it certainly depends on the complexity of the extension you want to build. Still, all you need for a basic extension are these:

1. A manifest.json file. Here, .json stands for JavaScript Object Notation. This manifest file stores metadata about our extension and shows Chrome how to use it. Every manifest file includes the extension’s name and description for Chrome Web Store browsers. After that, it declares dependencies, permissions, and any browser actions the extension will perform.

2. A JavaScript or HTML file. Here’s where you write the program detailing what your extension does. In the example the Chrome Developer site gives, it’s popup.html, a page that delivers cute cat photos to extension-users. For more complex extensions, it’s a JavaScript file containing a program that delivers the meat of the extension.

3. An icon. Actually, this is optional, but it’s helpful and certainly looks cute when your extension is installed. For best results, save an icon as three square images at resolutions of 16px, 28px, and 128px.

Building Manifest.json

At its very minimum, a manifest file needs only to include a name and a version. At 17 lines, ours does a little more. (Here’s the full thing in one place.)

This part includes all the metadata:

  "manifest_version": 2,
  "name": "Caaaarbs",
  "version": "1.0",
  "description": "Paleo's best friend.",
  "icons": {
    "16": "images/carbs16.png",
    "48": "images/carbs48.png",
    "128": "images/carbs128.png"

Manifest_version refers to the version of the file format we’re using. Chrome requires that you use version 2, so that’s what we’ve indicated.

Next comes the extension name, version, and description. These are really up to you.

After that, I listed out the extension’s icon sizes. First, I picked an image that I thought fit my extension—a royalty-free vector graphic of a croissant—and then sized it in Photoshop three times. Now, Chrome automatically puts the correct size of the icon where it is needed.

Here’s the rest of the file:

      "matches": ["*://*/*"],
      "js": ["myscript.js"],
      "run_at": "document_end"

These are the content scripts that make the extension tick. The first one here simply indicates that my extension will do its thing on any website. Under different circumstances, you could edit the asterisk wildcards to limit use of the extension to particular pages—you know, like

The second line indicates that manifest.json will read in the extension’s underlying program from a JavaScript file named myscript.js. That’s where the whole “find and replace” function lives.

Finally, the third line instructs my extension to run after the full page has loaded in the browser window. If it ran before I brought up a site, some of the words I want to find and replace might not have loaded yet!

Building Myscript.js

This file may be 40 lines long (see it here), but it’s mainly home to two JavaScript functions. In programming, a function is a reusable bit of code that performs a specific task.

The first function, called walk, executes an action that JavaScript programmers refer to as “walking the DOM.” DOM stands for Document Object Model, which is a code-based representation of a Web page and every element—text, images, form fields, and so forth—on it. It sort of resembles an upside-down tree, with a single trunk at the top and a bunch of ordered code “branches” below.

The walk function explores the whole tree, starting at the trunk and moving down to the end of the first branch, then back up until it finds another branch to examine. Basically, it’s crawling all the data on the page to locate the textual elements.

That’s where the second function, handleText, comes in. When walk finds some text, handleText scans for the words we want to replace, and then replaces them wherever it finds them.

How does it know which words to replace? We specified that this way:

v = v.replace(/\bbread\b/g, "caaaaarbs");

This is one of the five lines that specifies the words I want to swap out. You can choose any number of words for substitution, though each one will need a line like the one above. (It’s not the most graceful program ever written, but it is straightforward.)

Some technical details, for those who are interested: “v” is a variable that stores a temporary copy of “textNode.nodeValue=”—i.e., the text in a particular text element called “textNode.” The function v.replace rewrites the text in that element by replacing the first string (everything inside the parentheses before the comma) with the second string (the word “caaaaarbs”). The first string in the example above is a dense bit of code that identifies all text matching “bread” and then instructs the function to replace every word that is a match to this one.

At the end of the function, the temporary value stored in “v” gets copied back to “textNode.nodeValue” and then written into the code representation of the Web page—which then displays your change in the browser.

Uploading to Chrome

Collect your manifest.json, myscript.jpg, and your icons in a new folder by themselves. Now, navigate to chrome://extensions/ in your browser window.

Now, click the checkbox to put Extensions in “Developer Mode.” This will give you a few more options regarding what you can do with your extensions.

Click “Load unpacked extension…” and navigate to your Chrome extension folder. If all is well, it should upload without a hitch. If it returns an error, there’s most likely a syntax error in your code, so check it and try again.

Success! The image above shows my extension among others I’ve installed.

Now check out all the code to my extension on GitHub, clone your own copy, and make your own find-and-replace extension. I used this to prank my editor, but the possibilities are endless! You could prank your family or friends, too. Or you could even—gasp—use the find-and-replace action to create something useful! 

In any case, I’d love to see what you build. Tell us all about it in comments.

Engineer Jack Lawson contributed to this article. 

Top photo by Darren Harve; all screenshots by Lauren Orsini

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SearchCap: Google CPC Declines, Microsoft Cortana & Bing In Chrome

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: Microsoft Bing Now Added To Google Chrome New Tab Page Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, is now an option within Google’s Chrome new tab page screens….

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

View full post on Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Microsoft Bing Now Added To Google Chrome New Tab Page

Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, is now an option within Google’s Chrome new tab page screens. Prior, if you changed your default search provider in Chrome, the new tab page would still show Google has the search option. It would change the search provider in the URL/omnibox area but it…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Google Now Comes To Chrome For Desktops & Laptops

Google’s amazing predictive search tool, Google Now, is finally being made available to people on desktop and laptop computers using the regular release of its Chrome browser. Until now, it had only been available through mobile devices or to those using beta versions of Chrome. Google shared…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Google Now is Coming to Desktop Computers, via Chrome

Personal assistant Google Now, which monitors your web searches and alerts you about things such as the weather, flights, and traffic as well as providing various event reminders, has previously been available only on Android devices.

View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest

Google Now Cards Hit The Desktop For Mac, Windows and Chrome OS Users

The ever-helpful Google Now service is now available on your desktop for both Mac, Windows and Chrome OS users. This Google Now service features Google Now cards that are run through the latest Google Chrome build (Chrome Canary) and will work for those users who are currently logged-in to Chrome….

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Google Chrome Can Cut Your Mobile Data Usage—But There’s A Catch

The latest Chrome for Mobile update could help lower your data usage, but there’s a caveat—it will pass everything you browse through Google servers. 

Google announced new Chrome data compression and bandwidth management that it says could cut your browsing data usage in half. This is an opt-in feature that you can turn on via the browser’s settings.

The data compression feature is powered by an SPDY proxy connection running on Google’s servers that reduces the latency of Web pages. For instance, when you use Chrome, the proxy is able to process multiple requests and responses over a single connection to your mobile device, and the proxy takes on the task of DNS lookups that would normally be handled by your phone or tablet. The proxy also optimizes images to a compressed WebP format, so less data is used when downloading images. 

There’s more background in this older Google Chrome blog post.

Chrome will bypass the Google proxy (and thus disable data compression) if you’re on a secure (HTTPS) connection or browsing in “incognito” mode. Google takes some further steps to mollify privacy concerns:

Additionally, the content of proxied pages will be cached according to each page’s cache policy as specified by its headers (Expires, Cache-Control, etc.) but not logged. These logs are not associated with your Google Account, and the entire log entry will be removed within 6 months. Google will use both the request and response data to improve the service; for example, more effective optimizations can be uncovered by analyzing timing data for pages loaded through the proxy service.

You’ll be able to track how much bandwidth you save each month by visiting “Bandwidth Management” under “Settings.” 

In addition to the data saving update, Google also announced Google Translate in Chrome for iOS and application shortcuts on Android. 

Image via Google

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Middle Earth Comes To Life On Google Chrome

Editor’s note: This post was originally published by our partners at PopSugar Tech.

From the elvish oasis of Rivendell to the abandoned kingdom of Erebor, director Peter Jackson spared no expense in re-creating J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical world of lush greenery, terrifying forest lands, and creatures big and small. In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the trifecta of stunning backdrops, flawless costumes, and sweeping music comes together seamlessly on the big screen (and in eye-popping 3D).

Now imagine the difficulty in developing that same universe for small screens. A Journey to Middle-earth is a Google Chrome experiment that took the challenge head-on. The interactive Web feature for computers, phones, and tablets allows Hobbit fans to see the dwarves’ journey in incredible detail.

Explore the Trollshaw Forest, Rivendell, Dol Guldur, Thranduil’s Hall, Lake-Town, and Erebor in full-screen. You’ll definitely want to pop on some over-ear headphones and experience the Chrome Experiment’s immersive soundtrack. The narration provided in each area will provide background from Tolkien’s novel and the first Peter Jackson-directed Hobbit film. Once you finish swiping through each area, you’ll get a chance to play an interactive game. Try your hand at archery in Lake Town or avoid the wrath of Smaug by delivering only the cleverest response.

Creating the web-based multimedia was no small feat. Engineers used WebGL and Web Audio to produce the interactive’s rich detail and optimize javascript performance. Adapting the experience for all screens was another challenge entirely. The team provided a case study of how they approached the front-end development for the site.

As fans of both Tolkien and Sherlock, we are very, very excited to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug again and again. The film, of course, stars our two favorites: Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Benedict Cumberbatch as the lethal Smaug. The banter between the two of them in the film is priceless.

After watching the film, dive into the Hobbit Chrome Experience at, then let us know which section of the dwarves’ adventure you’d like to participate in most. 

Image courtesy of Flickr user torbakhopper via CC

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