Tag Archives: Safari
While we’re patiently waiting for get our web application fix from the soon to be launched official Chrome Web Store, here are some great places where you can check out the capabilities of what today’s browsers can do. You might be surprised to find out that webapps can do what native applications can, and that it may not be much longer before everything is centered around the (gasp) cloud.
I came across FreeBrowserGamer when I was looking for something to play that required a no-frills approach within the browser, and this site certainly fills that need. Whether you are interested in 2D or 3D games you’ll find something original and challenging. When you look at the 3D games and their categories, you start to see that some of these titles actually have depth and quality which suggests that developers are putting money into browser based games such as Guns of Icarus (pictured below) and Earth Eternal.
This site claims to be the “largest directory of HTML5 games” and they do not disappoint. Whereas FreeBrowserGamer focuses more on original and 3D gaming that often requires a plugin installation, HTML5Games offers more of the 2D variety as well as a good selection of classics. Of course, there are some intriguing titles such as Galactic Inbox which is clearly a game that prods fun at the folks over at Google and Slither, a take on the classic game Snake but with a twist. There is also a section devoted to games that can be played on mobile devices.
Each of these sites offer something a bit different depending what you are looking for in an interactive browser experience. Hopefully you find what you’re looking for, and let us know if there’s something really cool on one of these sites that we should share.
It has been big news recently that Chrome has overtaken Safari as the third most used browser in the U.S. While this statistic is one that’s skewed towards the United States since Chrome and Safari have been neck and neck, the reality is that Chrome took third place worldwide over Safari back in September.
The main reason that America has lagged in this regard is probably the fact that Apple sells so many computers in the United States, coming with the well regarded WebKit-based Safari.
But the point of this post is to understand how Chrome got this far in a period of two years. When I first tried Chrome as an early adopter-type in the beginning of 2009, I liked the design interface and the idea of “sandboxing” where every tab was its own process. The problem with Chrome at that time was one of compatibility: there were sites that did not function correctly with Chrome, a surprise to me because of its WebKit roots.
Over time, which really isn’t long by Google’s measurement, Chrome evolved. Many sites needed to adapt some functionality to Chrome, but for the most part it was the folks at Google working fervently to make the best browser available. Perhaps they knew that they were making the foundations of an operating system at the time, who knows?
In December 2009, Google launched the Chrome Extensions web site, an opportunity for the company to better compete with Firefox’s vaunted library of add-ins. Not only did they take an existing idea, they improved on it by putting security limits around extensions at their site, making sure that proper measures are taken to make sure that personal data and important computer processes cannot be compromised through the browser. Clicking around at the Extensions site the other day it appears that there are over five thousand now available.
In the beginning, Google offered an extension that you could install into Chrome and translate different languages of the web. Then they started adding it into the development Chromium builds, and finally it was released with the launch Chrome 5 to users a few months ago embedded in the browser itself. This feature is so easy to use, and it unlocks the web for everyone to read no matter their language. Google took an existing service they had and put it right into the browser where it’s the most useful.
No Messing With Flash
Maybe Google sees something in Flash that Apple doesn’t, but they decided to take a very different approach to handling Adobe Flash than Cupertino. Instead of eschewing it completely, Google has embraced the technology. Flash is used in YouTube videos, for some streaming music sites and I’ve recently noticed it needs to be installed to use Google Analytics. So, unlike other browsers that require you to install it and then update to newer revisions manually, Google preempts any inconvienence and risk by making it a part of Chrome.
In the End
Relentless innovation has gotten Chrome browser this far. This is due to Chromium as an open source resource as well as the amount of manpower that Google has thrown towards it in anticipation of Chrome OS. I didn’t even get to talk here about interesting features like the omnibox, bookmark sync and geolocation, but they are an aside to these three major developments that are propelling this browser’s growth. How much market share can this browser take from Internet Explorer and Firefox in the months and years to come?
MindMeister is a company that provides a special tool for organizations called “mind mapping”. Being a software as a service company, it was logical for them to be included when the Google enterprise Apps Marketplace when it was launched last March. In this interview, I talk with MindMeister COO Michael Hollauf and CTO Till Vollmer about their software, the recent changes Google has made to Apps as well as what it’s like working with the search engine giant.
Can you tell me a little bit about MindMeister?
Michael: We’ve been online for about 3 years now. About a month ago, finally, we launched on Google Apps Marketplace. This came out of a relationship with Google. It started pretty early on, almost three years ago now. We realized the product we have fits nicely with what Google has.
It’s a nice add-on for their Apps. I’m explaining more our relationship with Google. Since our integration, we are doing more things integrated with the Docs. We have a regular relationship with them. It seems they’re really pushing Apps now with the introduction of the Marketplace and the enhancements to Google Docs.
Would you say your product is similar to something you would do in Visio or is it something out on its own?
Michael: Yes, it’s certainly something that’s on its own. Visio is something that can draw everything. You can draw pictures, flow charts. I think we’re a subset. We focus on a subset of what Visio does. We are very good at that. Our software basically gives it all, focuses very quickly and doesn’t worry about the drawings, it just brings in all of your structures.
So, I think someone that uses our mind mapping product wouldn’t be very happy with Visio. More similar to drawing in a PowerPoint presentation, something like that. It’s a similar space though. We often get requests for things like flow charts and so on. It’s all graphical, visual presentation. They have something in Docs which is now called Google Drawings with a separate bar.
Is this just something that is part of the Apps marketplace? I assume that your pricing model is set up so it’s a monthly user fee or something? Anything of that nature?
Michael: Yes, it’s a monthly user fee. It’s a monthly fee per user or teams of users so you can have two people up to however many you want. You can pay by the month or can pay by the year. The way it works in Google Apps is they don’t have a billing infrastructure. So the way we do it, we let users sign up for free without even entering their credit cards. They just go to MindMeister in Apps and get a 30 day free trial.
If you want to upgrade, you can pay and purchase. That’s going to be the way it works until we launch billing. According to Google, it should be in a couple of months when the users will only use their credit card once – when they sign up to Google Apps. Then they will be able to do everything at the Apps Marketplace: just add the app.
Better for us and better for users. They don’t want to enter their credit cards more than they have to.
I think that’s a fantastic idea. What are they getting out of setting up all of this entire infrastructure? Is it just that they’re getting the value of added features to Apps?
Michael: Yes, now that’s the only thing they are getting, but with the billing, they are going to take twenty percent I think it is.
Twenty percent of everything then?
I ask these things because Eric Schmidt keeps talking about how a lot of revenue is going to start to come from this. There really hasn’t been an explanation, but that right there, when you’re dealing with percentage of fees per month that really adds up. What they’re trying to do is get away from just advertising because you really have to diversify when you’re a company that large.
Michael: They still do 97% (something like that) or 95% just with advertising. So, they are searching for other ways for (revenue).
A few weeks ago there was an announcement that went out relating to some changes they’re doing (which included no longer supporting Gears).Is it just Docs? Maybe you guys could talk a little about that.
Michael: It was just Docs with their announcement. We’ve had to find all sorts of explanations and guidelines for our users (about Gears). It works fine for older ones; it’s just not supporting the new ones. Now I think of all of the programs and suppliers will have to do the same thing. A lot of people use it and I think if everyone is persistent, it will send out messages that it (will not be) working anymore.
It seems a little strange to me because you’d think they’d have a solution ready to go.
Michael: Our users I think, it used to work better (same with all browsers, even Firefox). It doesn’t support it anymore and you can’t even install it anymore. There are other features as well.
Till: Obviously the drawing is one of the things that are new. There are a couple of changes to things, and the API as well. The big thing was the drawing actually.
Michael: I think there is one thing talked about that real time is not being liberated enough. With this EtherPad, a document could be worked on (with others) at the same time. You could do things in real time. Like when you typed in the character, it would show up on the other person’s screen like in the same second. The real time collaboration, I think that’s what’s built into Docs now.
Well, that’s great. Could you tell me the name of that company again? I’ve never heard of this before.
Michael: Etherpad. I think it was two or three Google employees a year ago when they started that company.
It sounds like they’re trying to make collaboration better but at the same time, the offline access (via Gears) thing is a little distressing especially when you’re thinking about moving everything to the cloud, it seems there’s going to be some sort of solution through HTML5, right?
Michael: There’s an issue, yeah. I mean real time, I didn’t see anything about that in HTML5. Is it http or something? Or some offline mode supported in HTML5?
So, they’re going to use HTML5 for that? I don’t think they have a choice, if you lose that functionality it just seems like a really bad idea. I think the cloud is a great thing but, what happens when you make these kind of changes? And I just don’t know what kind of solution it’s going to be that all these companies now have to make all of these changes?
Michael: That’s because all of us use these, really out of necessity. This is something that could happen with Flash, I don’t know. Now we have to wait. It’s not a great situation but the market shows it’s a young market and technology is new. Otherwise, this is “growing pains”, I would say.
It’s just to be so disruptive in so many areas that they’re starting to do these types of things, to be honest with you. It’s just I hear a lot about all of the benefits but I think what most people are concerned about where this is going. The idea I think, when they started this was to compete with Microsoft but now it doesn’t seem like that what they want to do. Instead, it’s to be a compliment to that. Although I do think their solution is better.
Michael: I think in our discussions they never admit Microsoft is an issue for them. They’re more like “we’re trying to offer the best experiences and solutions to our users and if that hurts our competition, so be it”. I think it’s more not having to really talk about their competitors and so on. At least I think with Google Apps, that they’re trying to be the “next generation Office Suite”.
I think they’ll have a lot more to offer than Microsoft because of what they’re doing with you guys and all the other developers out there, that they have good ideas to make products better.
Michael: Great people are on it and (there is) a lot of enthusiasm. I haven’t really looked into Microsoft recently and what the rumors are about an online version of this. And because, sooner or later, they’ll have to go this way. All I’ve seen so far is some online office thing that allows you to share some uploaded documents with others but that’s all there is, right?
What about the people who are concerned about making the jump to the cloud?
Till: There are certain levels of security of course in (our) product. One thing is the channel hosting of the solutions in the computer to the data center and everything has access controls, cameras, access cards and all these kinds of things. Everything is redundant, their internet access of course, and the server part and all these kinds of things. So that’s the secure environment.
On the other hand of course, we offer for our premium customers encryption, so that the communication that is between the server and client is encrypted because a lot of people are working are just going there and connecting to their services and are often transmitting their plain passwords and this is not clear to all of them. That’s why we use SSL for the premium customers to not show their passwords somewhere or their passwords don’t get sniffed.
And on the application level, we have certain guard mechanisms where we protect certain actions people can do like password resetting, map access and personal data access. Just two hours ago a customer called me up and said, “I want to use your product, I was thinking about an in-house destination.” I said, “we have a service solution, there is no in-house solution”. They asked, “what about security?”
I think that it’s a good point that they ask this question. The answer is very simple. I say, “Do you have a laptop?” They usually say, ” Yes I have a laptop.” I ask, “Do you have all of your personal data and all that stuff on your laptop?” They say, “Yes.” So I ask, “What happens if someone just grabs it and runs?” They say, “Yes you’re right.” This isn’t going to happen with software as a solution because it’s much harder to hack into a T3 data center or get physical access into a data center than just grabbing your laptop.
Could give me an idea of who are your demographics when you’re talking about customers and who are the people that come to talk to you about these types of things? If you could just give me an idea of what type of people we’re talking about – who are becoming your customers?
Till: When we started off, we were a European company and we had just implemented the English language and we always wanted to address the whole world market. It was always our goal when we started. We had about 30% US customers and, actually it’s the same number I think today and maybe even more.
Actually, now we support nine languages, including Japanese and Russian and with customers from about 140 countries working on MindMiester now, about a half million or so of them. We have five hundred thousand users and we have individuals and freelancers as well as a very large base of real business customers like SAP for example or Symantec. We even have Microsoft as a customer. Microsoft China, actually at an innovation center there.
It’s basically around the world from individuals to businesses. We have a lot of universities and schools. This is in a lot of countries in terms of schools and universities in Shanghai or in Hong Kong or (even) in the US. So, that’s also the interesting thing. If you’re starting a business on the Internet there really is no real border anymore. It’s all about localizing the content and the user interface.
MindMeister is a software as a service. So we’re talking about something that runs in the browser. What tools have you used to create this, what technology are you running this on?
Till: So, basically we are using Ruby on Rails. We are using MySQL right now. We are using Apache for example, Linux as our platform. I think that’s it from the technology web we are using.
So do you recommend that your users have Chrome or Firefox? Or what is it about the browser that’s changing that? That’s going to help you guys? We touched on HTML5 and how you guys are working on it. Could talk a little bit about that?
Till: We made recommendations, we put out these for our users only. If they have to, we’ll continue to support IE6 for a little longer. Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, these are all great and open really fast.
How many people are you in total?
Michael: Ten to twelve right now, with a couple of freelancers, not a huge company.
Is the plan then to just focus on this is another thing. Other companies I’ve talked with are working on several different apps. Are you just going to focus on this?
Michael: For the time being, yes. We have discussions all the time. To the extent that they could go further? No concrete plans as of yet. The market is good for that. We’re in a really good position. I have so many ideas for this. I do want to start something else with that small group of people.
I have just one more question. Since the Marketplace has gone live, has it been a good tool in getting new customers? Has it been a marketing vehicle for you guys? Have you seen a good influx of customers who’ve come through Google to connect with you guys?
Michael: Definitely, yes. So, I think it’s worth the effort to integrate to get a lot of exposure. Of course, you get new customers out of it, for us I think it’s a good thing. And, so, Google hasn’t really started to promote the whole thing. I had a call yesterday with them and they told us they would start promoting apps more aggressively.
Even so, they haven’t really started marketing. We already see the results. We’ll see what happens if they really start pushing (Apps) through their distribution channels and through the marketing, etc.
Thanks to Michael and Till for taking the time to talk to me. You can sign up for a free basic membership of MindMeister to check out their mind mapping product.
According to the notes included with game, this was created as a studious experiment in an attempt to learn how to use the relatively new HTML5 canvas technology.
With this and the news that some Google employees ported Quake II to the browser, these are great developments for gaming. No longer will users need to worry about downloading, system requirements and graphics latency, they can just use a browser to play games which no doubt will become more graphically complex as time goes on.
The Asteroids game works with Chrome, Firefox 3 and Safari 4 browsers. You can even download the source from the site as well if you’re interested.
A lot of good comes from allowing Google employees to spend twenty percent of their time at work on projects that they want to pursue. A case in point would be this video, which shows Quake II being run in Safari at a rate that must hover around thrity frames per second to look so good. the engine running this is WebGL and HTML5:
It must be nice to be on serious projects like this at work.
More info on the project:
Quake II to the browser.
In the port, we use WebGL, the Canvas API, HTML 5 <audio> elements, the local storage API, and WebSockets to demonstrate the possibilities of pure web applications in modern browsers such as Safari and Chrome.
To make the Jake 2 code work with GWT, we have
- Created a new WebGL based renderer
- Ported the network layer for multiplayer games from UDP to the WebSocket API
- Made all resource loading calls asynchronous
- Created a GWT implementation of Java nio buffers based on WebGL arrays (to be ported to ECMAScript Typed Arrays)
- Implemented a simple file system emulation for saving games and preferences using the Web Storage API
In a video that is meant to show off the security features of Internet Explorer 8, Product Manager Pete LePage takes aim at the Chrome browser, claiming that because IE8 allows users to search in a separate box rather than doing so in an all-in-one inbox box that Google is possibly compromising a user’s security by reporting every term back to Google.
“By keeping these boxes separate, your privacy is better protected and the addresses of the sites you’re visiting aren’t automatically shared with Microsoft, or anyone else,” LePage says in the video.
“As I start to type an address into the address bar, Fiddler [a Web debugging proxy] shows that for nearly every character I type, Chrome sends a request back to Google,” LePage says. “I haven’t even hit enter yet to load the website and Google is already getting information about the domain and sites I’m visiting.”
This only partially true. You are capable of changing your search provider in Chrome, and when you do the information that you search for in the Omnibox will send it back to the engine of your choosing. Just because IE8 has two separate boxes for these functions does not make it safer.
The option for sending information back to Google when you start typing into the Omnibox can be turned off by following these instructions. I know this because I downloaded Fiddler myself and tried it to make sure.
LePage also goes on to promote the virtues of IE8′s InPrivate feature, which allows users to surf the web anonymously. Interestingly, this feature sounds eerily similar to Chrome’s Incognito mode which has been a part of Google’s browser since 2008.
Look, there’s no doubt here that Internet Explorer is facing a decline in market share. A recent graph out by Net Applications shows that Internet Explorer is dropping while Chrome is gaining. At the same time, competitors like Safari (which can be traced to Mac adoption), Firefox and Opera are filling in the space where users once had Internet Explorer as their preferred browser. If Microsoft does not go on the offensive with videos like this they risk losing even more market share.
Expect Microsoft to heavily market IE8 and eventually IE9. They will also do well if they keep copying key elements of other popular browsers if they hope to stay relevant, one of the other “industry standard” practices LePage talks about in the video.
While news has been sparse since Day 1 of Pwn2OWn, word is that Chrome was the only major browser to make it through the entire competition unscathed. That means it even got through the vaunted Windows XP Day 3, where many expected that Chrome would be exploited by using some of XP’s inherent holes. Not to mention withstanding the service packs that XP is nine years old.
Major browsers such as IE8, Safari and Firefox were hacked within minutes of the start.
Pwn2Own, by the way, is a contest that awards “researchers” cash prizes for successfully hacking computer platforms – prizes in the range of $10,000 to $15,000 plus the computer that they are hacked on.
OK, so Chrome made it through. But let’s think about this. Chrome has only been out since 2008, and there still aren’t that many users who have adopted it yet. W3schools, a web developer site, cites an 11.6% rate of users who visit their site as running Chrome for February 2010. And that is a site for early adopters of web technology! The real number for the entire web population is probably closer to five percent. That may be one of the reasons that researchers have yet to find vulnerabilities in it: they hack what they know, which are the other browsers out there.
Of course, there is also the idea that the other browsers on the market are simply weaker than Chrome which is also a possibility. There was some stir in the days leading up to the contest that Google quickly patched up a slew of security flaws in what was seen as a pre-emptive move. But when you are actually awarding outside experts with cash when they see a flaw in Chrome, it’s probably easier to patch up things that may be hard to see when they are right in front of you.
Good news for all you Mac users: the newest update to Chrome 5 will offer the Translate feature that those of us on the Windows version have been able to enjoy for the past couple of weeks. If you’ve never used Google translate, you probably don’t know what you’re missing. I have a piece out there already that pretty much outlines what I’m talking about, and you can check it out here.
Here are the new updates to Chrome 5 Beta for Mac:
- Translate feature has been added
- Greater control over privacy (learn more here)
- Full screen mode by using Shift-CMD-F (Thanks Nick!)
- Forced reload, instead of using cache by using Shift+Reload
Already have Chrome 5 Beta for Mac? You will be automatically updated. If you don’t have Chrome 5, get it here.
With the news that Safari was the first browser successfully hacked at this year’s Pwn2Own competition, those of you out there who like using Apple products may want to consider giving Chrome 5 a try. An earlier version that is in stable release, Chrome 4, has yet to go down at the competition where hackers (they’re called “researchers” these days) try to compromise operating systems, browsers and mobile phones.
Apple comes out with great products. There is no doubt about that. But one big problem is that they aren’t nearly as ubiquitous as Windows products, and therefore have not been as susceptible to attack by those with malicious intentions. Unfortunately that landscape is changing. Check out this graph that shows the correlation between the prevalence of Apple stores and adoption of their products:
So while Apple has been building its own retail stores around the world they have increased their market share from 3.5% to almost 10% in a span of seven years. That means more Macs and more of them means the potential to attack them increases. As an example of how much work needs to done to protect Macs, Apple added data execution protection (DEP) to Snow Leopard which was something adopted by Windows in XP SP2 which came out in 2003.
So this post may have gone off on a tangent from its original theme, but I hope it has been informative nonetheless.
Yesterday’s first day for the Pwn2Own contest came and went literally for the Chrome browser. The competition, which pits security minded hackers against web browsers, operating systems and mobile phone platforms did however do a number on Apple products. Apple’s Safari browser was hacked on both Snow Leopard and the iPhone, while Charlie Miller, a previous winner, snagged ten grand by remotely taking control of Safari on a MacBook Pro. Miller is the one who was quoted a while ago saying that Chrome 4 without Flash on Windows 7 was the most secure computing environment out there today.
Also, IE8 on Windows 7 was successfully hacked on the first day of Pwn2Own, with researcher Peter Vreugdenhil getting past Windows 7′s data execution protection (DEP) and address space layout representation (ASLR) to exploit IE8. An hour after that, a freelancer named Nils was also able to use those same Windows vulnerabilities to also hack Firefox 3.6.
Yesterday was the day for Windows 7, and today the competition will face Vista, with tomorrow highlighting XP. Will Chrome fall on a less secure system? We shall see. Here is the complete three day schedule for Pwn2Own:
The target pairings for day one are:
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 on Windows 7
- Mozilla Firefox 3 on Windows 7
- Google Chrome 4 on Windows 7
- Apple Safari 4 on MacOS X Snow Leopard
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 on Windows Vista
- Mozilla Firefox 3 on Windows Vista
- Google Chrome 4 on Windows Vista
- Apple Safari 4 on MacOS X Snow Leopard
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 on Windows XP
- Mozilla Firefox 3 on Windows XP
- Google Chrome 4 on Windows XP
- Apple Safari 4 on MacOS X Snow Leopard
Most top prizes are in the $10,000 range, plus the hardware that is hacked on is also awarded. There is also a focus on these mobile platforms (and as we said that the iPhone has already been hacked):
- Apple iPhone 3GS
- RIM Blackberry Bold 9700
- Nokia E72 device running Symbian
- HTC Nexus One running Android
We’ll keep you posted, especially on the Google-related products.
As many already know, YouTube is attempting to get away from using the proprietary Adobe Flash standard for video playback. In mobile devices such as the iPhone and soon the iPad, you cannot use Flash, supposedly because Apple CEO Steve Jobs deems it “buggy” – causing applications that use it to crash. There is another valid argument for not using Flash, and it is because now that it is installed in so many devices it could be a security threat according to McAfee.
As previously reported here, there is a beta for using HTML5 while on YouTube. This allows anyone using a HTML5-compliant browser to use it. But that means using a compliant browser such as Safari, Chrome, Firefox or IE when coupled with Chrome Frame to use it. The current version does have its quirks, but eventually it will result in a a faster and overall better user expeience when looking at any type of media over the web.
You can take a look at how to use HTML5 and its early performance on the YouTube site right here:
It’s pretty clear from the clip that the video loads pretty fast. Instead of using Flash as the go-between, HTML5 allows web developers to directly embed compressed video files such as MPEG right into the code itself so that it can be called from a server. Not to mention that Flash can take up a lot of resources on your machine if you’re trying to load up a couple of videos. The only intermediary is the application that you use, further evidencing the fact that personal computing is becoming more centralized around the internet browser and the standard application that we use to view it.
Ah, so what is the best browser? If you look at this through the lense of Ian Hickson’s Acid Tests, which gives you a score based on how compliant your browser is with today’s web standards, one can get a good sense of what is good today and what isn’t. Plus, what is a Monday morning without a good video clip to keep you going:
I don’t have much to say about this, other than how horribly Internet Explorer 8 failed the test, but what are you gonna do?
The web developer-focused w3schools releases browser statistics every month. Recently, they published their figures for January. Fueled by the movement of Chrome 4 into a stable version along with the increased media coverage of Chrome OS and Google’s competition with the other tech titans, Chrome has moved past the ten percent share mark, registering a 10.8% share which is up a solid point from December, at 9.8%.
Mind you, w3schools.com is not any sort of official standard for browser usage. However, the 9 million monthly users of the site are forward-thinking technologically minded people who are using the site to find the latest and greatest in terms of web development resources. With that being said, there is no doubt that w3schools caters more towards early adopters of technology, but the fact that Chrome browser is now in use for over ten percent of those looking for web development resources shows that some other browsers are going to begin to slowly get sqeezed out of their share of the market.
And to make sure that these are not the only statistics for this article, Netmarketshare is reporting that Chrome browser usage is at 5.22% in January, up from 4.63% in December. These stats are supposedly representative for the entire web, although there must be some give or take considering the web’s global audience. Regardless, you can read about their methodology for measuring stats here.
For January, thechromesource had 44.1% that used Firefox, 34.5% users with Chrome, 9% with Safari and 6.6% with Internet Explorer.