Tag Archives: Chrome Labs
When Google Instant was first unveiled to the masses, it was given a mixed reception. But at this point it appears that Instant has become another indispensible way to get to Google Search queries as fast as possible. It became a part of Chrome after version 9 of the browser was releaed, bringing it right inside the Omnibox for easy access.
I have noticed that the most recent Chromium builds are showing a new experimental feature in the “about:flags” section called Restrict Instant to Search.
By disabling this, only your searches are brought up below the Omnibox. Google is testing a variation of the feature perhaps because some of the results that display are coming up as an undesired result. This may be because of bad history matching, which was actually suppposed to be addressed in another experimental feature. It is also possible that nonessential URLs were just popping up in the Instant queue – ever noticed that?
Whatever the reason, it’s probably best that Google Instant has its own degree of settings that users can then dial up or down how they see fit. Sure, it’s adding another menu to a series of menus in Chrome but this one is probably worth it to Google since the key element to the company’s success is happy browsing.
Would you like more options that you can toggle on or off in Google Instant?
The lock down of features for Chrome’s event in December combined with the holiday season really slowed down the speed with which Chrome and Chromium was being developed. But things appear to be picking up, and 2011 looks to be an exciting time to be following Chrome. Indeed, Chrome and Chrome OS VP Sundar Pichai recently posted on Twitter that we are in store for “an exciting next few months ahead” and I certainly believe it.
Looking at the newest Chromium builds, I’ve found a new experimental feature called Instant Autocomplete Immediately.
The ability to use the option for experimental location features has arrived as an option that can be entered into Chromium’s “about:flags” option menu. This feature’s description was a bit wordy, so I stacked the text on top of itself in order for it to fit into your screen.
This allows developers to work with geolocation paired with their extensions. And the reference to operating system location APIs? Sounds like something that would be prepped for a mobile OS like Chrome OS.
Regardless, Google’s planning on making geolocation coupled with mobile an integral business going forward. Consider the rumored acquisition of daily deals site Groupon and the movement of Marissa Meyer, formally VP of search products, into heading the geographic and local services are of the company.
Another new option pointed out to me recently in the newest Chromium builds is the ability to disable hyperlink auditing. As with all new options, this has been added to the “about:flags” section in the newest builds as opposed to users having to put in a shortcut switch.
Hyperlink auditing is part of the HTML5 standard that allows a link to be attached to a resource. This is generally used for tracking purposes. It’s been said that this will offer more granularity for users to decide whether their actions are tracked via a link.
Being able to disable this, then, would mean that a user could limit some tracking strategies from occurring. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that activity is anonymous. We’ve seen in the past efforts to do this still end up being stored as data and open for data mining, as evidenced by the fact that even using Incognito browser still leaves some traces of activity.
The most recent builds of Chromium are showing a feature that allows for different types of webapps to be installed with Chrome called CRX-less webapps. The CRX file name is used for installation of Chrome extensions.
According to the Google Code site, a CRX file contains:
- A manifest file
- One or more HTML files (unless the extension is a theme)
- Optional: Any other files your extension needs — for example, image files
These are then placed in a CRX file, which is compressed much like a ZIP file.
Relying on a manifest file in a web page, which is simply text, instead of a CRX could result in a more streamlined process for packaging/installing webapps. I’m going to assume that somehow these files are marked as trusted and require Chrome users to allow/disallow installation.
A newish option added to Chromium’s “about:flags” experimental menu in the latest builds is the ability to enable experimental extension APIs. This option is mainly for extension developers, but the fact that it is being added to experiments suggests that there may be a good amount of extensions coming down the pipe using these APIs.
Back in March, the Chromium Blog posted an article regarding experimental APIs for extensions. Two of the APIs outlined at that time were for history and processes.
That means developers could create extensions that allow for better history searching or access to process information down to the process ID or memory usage.
This sounds like a smart idea, especially in terms of history. One of the things that irks me about Chrome to some degree is browsing history, as searching through the volumes of pages I have visited for some nugget of information sometimes makes me want to throw my laptop when the results return nothing.
Already, the history API is now fully supported but there are other great experimental ones coming down the pipe such as the clipboard API.
Check out the list of current experimental APIs for Chrome. What one of these looks most useful?
UPDATE: A reader pointed out to me that the history API had already become fully supported.
New features seemingly pop up in Labs every day, and the best way to find them is to download the latest version of Chromium. Today I noticed a new option called Snap Start when I hit the “about:flags” address in the Omnibox bar of a new build.
It’s interesting to see Google attempt to remove so many steps from processes and protocols that they simply don’t think we need. This may not always work out, but it’s great to see them try. In Chrome OS itself, much of what we’re accustomed to dealing with on computers is reduced.
Is simplicity by design the future of computers?
We covered both of these when they first hit Chromium, and it’s pretty amazing how quickly they have arrived in the Chrome Dev and Canary channels.
Google Instant Verbatim search and Web Prerendering have arrived in the development channels through the “about:flags” command that can be entered into the Omnibox which will bring you to Chrome Labs. Instant Verbatim is even faster than regular Instant Search, and prerendering is a feature that “speculatively” loads sites for quicker access.
You can check out my video of Instant versus Instant Verbatim here. As for prerendering, well, I’m not fully sure how that operates other than basing page loads through web history.
UPDATE: A reader has pointed out that Google has put the flag in, but prerendering is not yet implemented. That makes sense because I cannot find a whole lot of information on it.
The newest feature to land in the latest builds of Chromium is an optional background check for software incompatibility. As more code moves directly into the realm of the browser, this makes sense.
This removes some fear in my mind of an endless succession of browser crashes due to plugin incompatibility. While Google has taken steps to avoid this by baking in Flash and a PDF reader, there are going to be plugins required for certain applications that may not play well with others.
Any other examples of plugins I may have missed?
The latest builds of the open-source Chromium browser, which you can download from this directory, are featuring a new Labs option that you can enable called Web Page Prerendering. You can get to the Labs menu in Chrome by entering “about:flags” into the Omnibox.
Enabling/disabling these in Labs is easier and faster than having to use command line switches, which is nice and means that some of these features are seriously being testing for a future release at some point.
We recently wrote about a new feature added to Chromium builds called Instant Verbatim. It really is pretty useful, but describing it in words is a bit drab and doesn’t really detail the feature well enough. Here, you can see the difference between Instant and Instant Verbatim up close.
The guys over at DownloadSquad have a recent build of Chrome OS (0.9.111) set up with some nice screenshots of what we’ll be using in the very near future on a commercial device.
Here’s a look at the login screen. This has been touched up, no longer with the blue background.