All about Google Chrome & Google Chrome OS

18 Dec 12 Google Chrome to Receive Search Refinements

Aims to deliver search results more swiftly.

Google has detailed changes coming to Chrome, with the company updating the developer’s version of the browser to deliver search results more quickly.

Originally released to a small number of users utilizing Chrome dev for Windows and the developer’s version of Chrome OS that have Google set as their default search provider, the changes have been applied to both the new tab page, as well as any searches typed into the location bar.

Google software engineer David Holloway said the changes are in response to those still navigating to their preferred search engine’s home page as opposed to searching from the location bar.

Situated on the new tab page, the default search engine provider is capable of embedding a search box and “otherwise customize” the page, though the latter wasn’t detailed by Google.

Elsewhere, in the omnibox (the URL field in the location bar), search engines can now depict search terms within the omnibox, excluding the requirement for a second search box displayed on the results page.

Search engine providers are now able to integrate the features through the new Embedded Search API, which is an extension of the SearchBox API. Holloway added that Chrome dev on Mac will receive the update in due course.

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17 Dec 12 Android’s Google Now services headed for Chrome, too | Internet & Media …

Google Chrome logo

It looks like Chrome users, not just
Android users, will get access to Google Now, the search giant’s technology for bringing weather reports, trip departure reminders, birthday alerts, nearby restaurant reviews, and more to the attention of Android users.

Google’s Chrome team added a “skeleton for Google Now for Chrome” to the Google browser yesterday, an early step in a larger project to show Google Now notifications in Chrome.

Google Now integration into Chrome gives Google a new way to connect people closely to online services that Google judges to be relevant depending on time and location. Francois Beaufort, who keeps a close eye on the Chrome source code, spotted the move.

Google confirmed that it’s working on the project but stopped short of committing to it. “We’re always experimenting with new features in Chrome, so have nothing to announce at this time,” spokeswoman Jessica Kositz said.

The move reflects the growing maturity of Google’s operating system strategy. In mobile, it steers people to Android, and on personal computers, it steers them to Chrome or Chrome OS. Though Chrome isn’t an operating system, strictly speaking, browsers are absorbing more and more OS abilities, and Chrome OS systems of course can’t run anything but Web apps.

Whatever OS a person is using, Google is designing it as a mechanism to reach Google services: search, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Apps, Gmail, Google+, and more. These services are where Google makes its money.

And Google can show some Google Now-like services sometimes in search results, too. Drawing from Gmail messages, Google shows upcoming flight information and birthday reminders to users who have opted into the system.

Update, 12:58 p.m. PT:
Adds comment from Google.

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17 Dec 12 New Chrome extension: The play is with Chrome OS

Save image to Drive

The new Save to Google Drive extension recently released for Chrome is very useful for those using that browser. It’s been pointed out that the ability to save images to Google Drive could be a play by Google to go after Evernote. The Evernote cloud service is much more than a simple repository for captured images so I don’t think it has anything to worry about from Google with the new extension. I think Google is actually aiming the extension at new Chromebook owners looking to make the Chrome OS more like a desktop OS.

Just right-click on the image and save it to the cloud.

Google is in the midst of a big push to bring the Chromebook to those looking for a cheap but full-featured laptop. With decent Chromebooks now available at a bargain basement price ($199 – $249), Google is obviously trying to push its Chrome OS into the mainstream.

See related: 11 good Chrome web apps for the Chromebook

While Chromebooks are not for everyone, the ability to add any Chrome extension can make them meet a lot of consumers’ needs. These extensions, coupled with tight Google Drive integration out of the box, can make the Chromebook appealing to a greater audience.

Chrome OS File Manager
Chrome OS file manager: merging local and cloud storage

Chrome OS has a decent file manager app that puts the user’s Google Drive cloud storage right on the desktop. It facilitates moving files back and forth between local and cloud storage with extra software. Chromebook owners can attest to how useful it is to have complete access to the Google Drive on the desktop.

The new extension from Google makes it simple to capture any image directly to the Google Drive. Just right-click on the image and save it to the cloud. This adds a lot of utility to the Chromebook due to the integration with Google Drive mentioned earlier. 

There are other Chrome extensions that make this image saving very useful. The Aviary extension is a decent, free image editor that is especially useful on the Chromebook. It works with images stored on the Google Drive and handles a lot of image editing needs. 

Photo editing
Captured image edited in Aviary

The new Save to Google Drive extension takes on particular importance when Aviary is used. Just right-click any image to save it to the Google Drive and then edit it to your heart’s delight in Aviary. The resultant image can then be saved back to the Google Drive or easily moved to local storage on the Chromebook.

This sounds like a trivial feature but it is extremely powerful in practice. It is really useful for those also using the Evernote extension in Chrome. That makes it easy to shoot that edited image straight to an Evernote notebook in the cloud. This extensibility makes Chrome OS and those shiny new Chromebooks incredibly useful. You could say Chrome OS is getting more desktop-like over time.

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16 Dec 12 Chrome To Get Even More Search-Friendly

Chrome To Get Even More Search-Friendly

One of the best parts about Chrome has always been the omnibox, and the ease with which searching the web is compared to browsers that came before it (though some have caught up in this regard now). Google has made additional search-related improvements to Chrome over the years – most notably the addition of Google Instant. But more search-friendliness is on the way.

Google announced today that it is going to begin testing variations of Chrome’s New Tab Page in which the user’s default search provider will be able to add a search box or “otherwise customize” the page.

“While you can search straight from the omnibox in Chrome, we’ve found that many people still navigate to their search engine’s home page to initiate a search instead,” says software engineer David Holloway on the Chromium blog. “The goal is to save people time by helping them search and navigate the web faster.”

“We’ll also allow search engines to display the user’s search terms right in the omnibox, which avoids the need for a second search box on the results page,” adds Holloway. “This new capability, along with other ways to improve search suggestions, are exposed in a new Embedded Search API, an extension of the existing SearchBox API. Search engines can implement any part of the specification if they’d like their users to experience a customized variation of the NTP experience.”

A small set of users on the Dev channel on Windows and Chrome OS how have Google selected as their default search provider will start seeing test variations starting today. Halloway says Mac will be coming soon.

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16 Dec 12 James Love: Google’s New Chrome Operating System

Yesterday I received a Samsung laptop computer running Google’s Chrome OS. This is the new $249 Chromebook with an SSD drive, 2 gigs of RAM, an 11.6 inch 1366 x 768 pixels screen, and the 1.7 GHz Exynos 5200 processor. The laptop weighs 2.4 pounds and has a nice usable keyboard and a well implemented trackpad. There is also the option of a model with 2 years of 3G (limited) data from Verizon, for just $329. Both of the new Samsung models* are chronically sold out and hard to find (some resellers are getting $100 to $150 over the suggested retail price). While the Samsung hardware is surprisingly nice for the money, the real story is the new Google OS.

What Google has done with Chrome OS is to create a serious mass market operating system for desktop computers, from Linux. It is surprising that this has taken so long to happen, and also somewhat surprising that Google has positioned the OS as something for small screen computers mostly on the cloud, when the OS could easily be implemented (and maybe it will) for a wider range of devices and uses. The immediate impact will to make it hard to justify buying the 11.6 inch Mac Air, which starts at $999. But the OS is good enough to make much larger inroads into the desktop computing market. It is more than a thin client, with enough off-line functionality to make most users happy, and the early Chromebooks show that it is possible to have very tight integration between the Linux software and hardware.

I have been using several different desktop and laptop computers, mostly running the Ubuntu distribution of Linux, and also occasionally using a computer running the Apple OSX or Microsoft’s Windows. As much as I like Ubuntu, it seems unlikely to make serious inroads into the Apple or Microsoft desktop OS markets, at least for the foreseeable future. But the Chrome OS is unlike any other desktop Linux distribution. It makes the Apple OSX seem complicated, and anyone, and I mean anyone, can pick one up and use it right away.

I like having an 11.6 to 13 inch computer for travel, and its nice to have something that is light (a real “laptop”) and fits in the space for economy seats on an airplane or in the cramped space you have at a conference, and which has a good battery life. But I would also like to see this OS implemented in a 14 or 15 inch ultrabook hardware configuration, with a bit more hefty processor and more ram and diskspace. When that happens, both Apple and Microsoft will have to deal with some big changes in their business models.

* There some other hardware options from Samsung and Acer, including a new $199 laptop from Acer and a Samsung Chromebox, which requires external monitors and keyboard.

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16 Dec 12 A Windows admin takes a shine to Chrome OS

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15 Dec 12 Chrome search refinements on their way

Changes are coming to the new tab page and omnibox to make searching faster.


Some slight search changes are coming to Chrome, as Google updates the developer’s version of the browser today to make getting to your search results more quickly.

Initially released to a small subset of people using Chrome dev for Windows (download) and the developer’s version of Chrome OS (read CNET review) that also have Google set as their default search provider, the changes affect both the new tab page and any searches you type into your location bar.

Google software engineer David Holloway wrote in his blog post announcing the search improvements that they’re a response to people still navigating to their preferred search engine’s home page instead of searching from the location bar.

On the new tab page, the default search engine provider will be able to embed a search box and “otherwise customize” the page. Google didn’t specify what those customizations could be.

In the omnibox, Google’s term for the URL field in the location bar, search engines can show search terms in the omnibox, precluding the need for a second search box on the results page. Since I haven’t gotten access to the feature and Google has not posted any screenshots, it’s not clear if you won’t be able to see your search results URL.

Search engine providers can add the features via the new Embedded Search API, an extension of the SearchBox API, wrote Holloway. He also said that Chrome dev on
Mac will get the update at some point in the future.

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14 Dec 12 Chrome to better integrate alternative search engines

Google plans to better integrate other search engines in its browser by giving developers access to a new Embedded Search API. On the Chromium blog, Chrome software engineer David Holloway has explained how the development team is currently working on the implementation details that will allow other providers to display a search box on Chrome’s New Tab Page (NTP). Currently, the search engine in Chrome can only be changed for the browser’s “omnibox” (which combines search functionality with the address bar).

Apparently, the developers found that, even with the omnibox preferences changed, many users still navigate to the web sites of the search engines anyway. By allowing search providers to customise the NTP, the developers want “to save people time by helping them search and navigate the web faster”, says Holloway. Google will begin to roll out a number of different implementations of the new feature to “a small set of users” of the Chrome Dev channel on Windows and Chrome OS. They will currently only be offered to users who have their search preference set to Google’s search; those users should “begin seeing variations of the new experience”. An implementation on the Mac version of Chrome is planned to come soon.

The blog post does not specify when the new feature will be available in the Chrome builds for Linux. The developers are soliciting for feedback via the Chromium bug tracker from users who do receive one of the new implementations.


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19 Jun 12 Samsung Series 5 550 Review: The Case for Google’s New …

Jared Newman /

Why buy a laptop that runs nothing but a web browser, when you could buy a laptop that runs everything? That’s the question that comes up in pretty much every debate about Chromebooks — a series of stripped-down laptops that are merely vessels for Google’s Chrome web browser.

Unlike Windows PCs or Macs, Chromebooks cannot install any software. If you can’t access it through the web browser, you can’t run it on a Chromebook.

What you can’t do defines so much of the Chromebook experience — the laptops have very little local storage as well — that the existence of the products has been tough to justify. This was especially true with the first generation of Chromebooks from 2011, which were so underpowered that they couldn’t even provide a decent web browsing experience.

But now there’s a new Chromebook on the market that fixes many of the old ones’ problems. It’s fast enough to handle dozens of tabs across multiple windows. It’s got an excellent trackpad and keyboard. The Chrome OS software has been refined, so it rarely gets in the way of surfing the web. Best of all, the price is a mere $450 for the Wi-Fi model. (A 3G-equipped version with 100 MB of free Verizon data per month costs $550.)

During the E3 trade show in Los Angeles this month, I used a loaner Chromebook — built by Samsung and dubbed the Series 5 550 — as my primary laptop. I took notes on the Chromebook during press conferences and filed my stories through the WordPress blogging platform. When I needed to edit an image, I used the online photo editor Pixlr. I brought my three year-old Windows laptop as a security blanket, but never used it.

In the end, I was convinced that I’d happily ditch my Windows-based travel laptop in favor of a Chromebook.

Understand that I’m very close to the ideal user that Google envisions. Chrome is already my browser of choice, and I rarely use native applications. When possible, I prefer web apps, because they don’t clog up my system and they reside in my existing browser windows for easy access. If I need a document editor, I can get by with Google Docs. The Chromebook required no major tweaks to my work routine.

The latest version of Chrome OS includes some big changes that make the Chromebook more useful. Browser windows now reside in a desktop-like setting, so you can resize them, minimize them and place multiple windows side-by-side. Users can also pin their favorite web apps to the bottom taskbar for easy access alongside other browser windows.

The hardware is attractive too, with an aluminum shell and palm rest that give the Chromebook a hint of MacBook-like quality. (Much of the laptop, however, is clad in plastic.) The island-style keyboard is firm and responsive, and although the jumbo matte trackpad isn’t as smooth as the MacBook’s glass panel, it’s not as jerky as the trackpads on so many run-of-the-mill Windows laptops. The Chromebook’s speakers — usually a throwaway feature on laptops — are loud and rich enough to hear the bassline while listening to music.

The only major pain point on the new Chromebook is its 12.1-inch display, whose resolution is a measly 1280-800 pixels. It’s not a dealbreaker — and the matte screen was great at fending off outdoor glare — but when on-screen text runs small, it can be tough to read.

Other nitpicks: I wish the web app list in Chrome OS showed up in new tabs as it does in the desktop version of Chrome, instead of in a separate menu that I never got used to visiting. Also, when you’ve got a pinned app open already, it’d be nice if clicking the pinned icon led you to the relevant tab instead of opening a new tab every time.

On a few occasions, Chrome OS crashed, requiring a hard reboot by holding down the power button. In one instance, a website didn’t recognize my version of Chrome as a supported browser. (I got around this with an extension that tells websites a different browser is in use.)

I should also note that the original review unit Google sent had problems staying connected to Wi-Fi for more than 15 minutes at a time. One other reviewer, at PCWorld, had the same issue, but a Samsung representative said she was unaware of any other reported problems. After ruling out that it was a problem on my end, Google sent a second unit, which had no problems, so I’m assuming this was a freak defect.

Small gripes aside, the new Chromebook was light, fast, and quick to resume from standby, which made it an excellent travel companion. But back to the original question: Why limit yourself to a browser-based PC in the first place?

You need only look to Apple for the answer. Apple is successful because it builds its hardware to carry out the goals of its software. And that’s exactly what Google and Samsung have done with the new Chromebook. Gone is the clutter that you get with a traditional laptop–things like the row of F1 through F12 keys that you never use, the long bootup times, the annoying notifications and sluggishness from software you installed and forgot about.

By contrast, the Chromebook is built solely to help you browse the web faster. Instead of a caps lock key, there’s a search button. Instead of F-number keys, there are buttons for switching tabs, switching to full screen mode and moving backward and forward in the browser. You’ll find some of these functions on other laptops, but they must share real estate with the legacy keys they’re obligated to support.

Chromebooks are liberated from the baggage. Even the laptop’s storage limitations embody that idea: Instead of loading up the machine with pictures, music and video, just leave them on a networked PC or hard drive, or in a cloud storage service, and only store copies of the ones you immediately need.

Of course, there’s the issue of offline use. Most of the Chromebook’s apps require Internet access, but for those who scoff at the idea, I challenge you to unplug your router and see how much you get done on any other PC. Chrome OS could use some more built-in offline tools, such as a full-featured image editor and a version of Docs that lets you edit files and not just view them, but if you live and breathe offline, Chromebooks aren’t for you to begin with.

I’ve always been optimistic about Chromebooks, and was disappointed that the first wave of them were such a letdown. With the Series 5 550, Samsung has finally executed on Google’s vision. Chrome OS still feels like a futuristic concept, but it now it serves a practical purpose: The new Chromebook is a thin, light, inexpensive laptop with well-designed hardware that’s made for web browsing. You’ll have a tough time finding other laptops that meet all those criteria.

MORE: Apple Retina MacBook Pro Review: The MacBook Pro, Only More — and Less — So

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19 Jun 12 Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: It’s 2016, and Chrome OS is ascendant

Computerworld - The very first PCs were just appearing when I started using computers. We had already seen the advent of microcomputers and minicomputers. Those machines were designed for people who loved technology, not people who loved getting work done with technology. For work, you used mainframes and midrange Unix and VMS computers with a terminal on the client end. The CP/M-80, Apple II and IBM PC changed all that. Fat client computers took over the world, and they’re still reigning, in the form of Windows PCs and Macs.

But the PC is no Queen Elizabeth II. Its reign, half the length of hers, may be coming to an end.

Google thinks we’re ready to say goodbye to fat client systems and move to cloud-based operating systems, such as its own Chrome OS. Instead of PCs, it wants us to use Chromeboxes and Chromebooks. We’re resisting, but I think we’ll come around to Google‘s point of view in a few short years.

Not that the old mainframe/terminal model ever really went away. Some companies still issue thin clients that are basically input devices, with most of the actual computing happening on a distant server. Others use its descendant, client/server systems. More companies might have stuck with those models, but users made their preferences known. They liked the “personal” in “personal computer.” They wanted their computers to run just the way they wanted.

But as always happens with technology, evolution continued. Over the last few years, PCs have become commodities. Off the top of your head, can you explain what differentiates Dell from HP from Lenovo PCs? Meanwhile, we’ve moved huge quantities of our business and consumer computing to the Web and the cloud. That means that today, there just isn’t that much that you can you do on a PC that you can’t do on a Chromebook. Indeed, some people, including yours truly and Computerworld’s J.R. Raphael, were already using Chromebooks all the time even before the recent refresh.

Today, there are as many useful, fun and essential programs on the Internet as there are on PCs. But, unlike PCs, which require constant upgrades and expert management, Chrome systems automatically update constantly. Want to set up a thousand Chromebooks to access only your corporate-approved websites? I can do that in less time than it takes me to write this column.

Chrome OS is easy for users and administrators, and it’s cheaper. That’s a powerful combination.

What keeps that combo from winning the day is the reluctance to rely on a machine that can’t do much of anything without an Internet connection. But that resistance is going to fade as we all begin to realize that the same thing is more and more true of fat clients.


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