All about Google Chrome & Google Chrome OS

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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30 Apr 12 MySites for Chrome Transforms the New Tab Page into a Metro-Inspired Speed Dialer

MySites for Chrome Transforms the New Tab Page into a Metro-Inspired Speed Dialer Chrome: If Chrome’s built-in new tab page looks a little plain to you, or if you like the look of Microsoft’s Metro UI, MySites is a Chrome extension that changes the new tab page into a start page decorated with a web search bar and colorful tiles that you can click to go straight to your most commonly accessed sites and favorites.

Once installed, you can set up the tiles any way you like. Just like the default new tab pages, you can have separate screens for your Chrome apps and extensions, favorites, or just frequently visited pages, and clicking the left and right arrows gives you more screens to spread out on. The sizes of the blocks relate directly to the frequency of your visits to that site, so sites you browse all the time will show up large and bright so you don’t have to scan the tiles to find them.

The only down-side we found to MySites is that the search bar that’s built-in to the pages uses the “MyStart” search engine, which looks like it’s just an affiliate front end for Google, and there’s no way to just set it to Google or any other search engine, so that’s a bit of a bummer. Still, you can set your favorite engine as a tile, or just use Chrome’s omnibar, so it’s not that big of a deal. Have you tried MySites, or do you have another favorite tool to customize Chrome’s new tab pages? Let us know in the comments below.

MySites | Chrome Web Store via Addictive Tips

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24 Apr 12 Firefox 12 released, takes Chrome mimicry to the next level

Firefox logo (huge)

Though version numbers are fairly meaningless at this point, I am happy to announce that Firefox 12 has been officially released. There are two major changes: Moving forward, Firefox (on Windows) will automatically (and silently) update, and — praise be — the Find function is now a lot better at centering the page on any matches.

The ability to silently update very closely mirrors Chrome, and really it’s a surprise that Mozilla has taken so long to introduce this key feature, after switching to the six-week rapid release cycle almost a year ago, with Firefox 5. While making the update process opt-in sounds like the right thing to do, it has basically resulted in a very fragmented install base. When Chrome updates, almost everyone immediately moves to the new version — Mozilla, on the other hand, now has lots and lots of users spread out across a huge range of browsers, dating all the way back to Firefox 3.

Firefox Software Updater UACWhen you install Firefox 12, Windows UAC will ask you to approve Firefox Software Updater — and after that, you should never see an update dialog ever again.

Updated @ 14:55: You can disable automatic updates by going to Options Advanced Updates.

Unfortunately, despite what we previously reported, neither the New Tab Page or Home Tab made it into Firefox 12. Both features should arrive with Firefox 13, however — in just six weeks from now!

Firefox 14 favicon changeIn other news, the latest Nightly version of Firefox 14 has removed favicons from the address bar; the icon will now simply display a globe, or a padlock if the site is SSL-secured — just like Chrome. This is primarily a security fix: Nefarious websites could use a padlock favicon to trick users into thinking that the site is secure.

You can download Firefox 12 from the official website, or if you already use Firefox your browser should prompt you to update soon. Check out the official Mozilla blog for the full release notes.

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30 Jan 12 Firefox 12 Tab Features May Have Been Prematurely Hyped

Firefox tab features slated for the upcoming version may not be available until the following iteration, upsetting some fans who could ditch the web browser and use a competitor’s instead — a development that would be good news for Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome.

www.electronista.comBoth the home tab and new-tab page features initially reported as slated for Firefox 12, which is to be released in April, may not appear until Firefox 13, according to ExtremeTech.

“It now looks like at least the Home Tab, and possibly the New Tab Page, will not arrive until Firefox 13; they just weren’t ready for Firefox 12,” it reported on Sunday.

Other reports over the weekend based on nightly builds of Firefox 12 said that edition of the browser would have a new-tab page feature, similar to what’s found in Safari and Chrome, and a revamp of the home tab page.

With the new-tab feature, whenever a blank new tab is launched, Firefox would display a 3-by-3 matrix of thumbnails of your most visited sites.

You can edit the thumbnails. They can be reordered within the matrix through drag and drop. Thumbnails can be hidden or “pinned” to their position in the matrix.

The home tab changes are more ambitious and will come in two phases. Phase one calls for a clean and simple page with a row of “launchers” at its bottom. The launchers give you quick access to tools, such as bookmarks, history, settings, add-ons, web apps and downloads.

Phase two completely overhauls the home tab. It adds a new toolbar and direct access to Google Chat. It also incorporates the thumbnail matrix display used in the new new-tab feature. There’s a matrix of “top sites,” for example, and one for “recently shared” sites.

There’s a “top apps” section with shortcuts for webposts like Netflix, Facebook, Twitter and such.

www.extremetech.comThose tab features, though, probably won’t be seen until Firefox 13, which doesn’t have a release date yet, although it’s expected to be sometime at mid year.

Two things that will be in Firefox 12 are auto completion of web addresses and deeper integration with Web applications.

With auto completion, Firefox will automatically complete a URL that you start typing in the address bar based on information from your browser history or bookmark library.

Firefox 12 will enter its Aurora phase on January 31. Final release is expected in April.

With Mozilla’s rapid release schedule for Firefox, it’s not surprising that things can be a little confusing from time to time. The breakneck pace allows Mozilla to incorporate new features into Firefox faster, but it can create more pain than some users are willing to bear, users like “John S,” a commenter at ExtremeTech.

“Thanks but no, thanks, [F]irefox,” he wrote. “I’ve moved on.”

“Your fast release schedule has put me out in the cold,” he continued. “My add-ons are broken, and new bugs pop up every week. In fact, this is all academic, because your lost update broke my ability to use your browser at all. It won’t start, and no matter how many times I uninstall and reinstall, the problems remains the same.”

“So, it’s Chrome for me,” he concludes.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

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29 Jan 12 Firefox 12 will feature long-awaited New Tab Page and Home Tab

Firefox 12 new tab page

After a long gestation period, it now appears that Firefox 12 — which moves to the Aurora channel at the end of the month — will feature the long-awaited New Tab Page and Home Tab. The new tab page is very like Chrome’s feature of the same name. The home tab builds off the new tab page popularized by Chrome and Opera, but then throws in ton of Firefox-unique functionality.

At the moment, the new tab page really just shows you a 3-by-3 grid of your most-visited websites (pictured above). You can pin a tile, or — if Firefox has turned up a particularly embarrassing site — you can hide a tile (in which case the next-most-popular site appears). You can also drag and drop the tiles to rearrange them. For now, that’s the extent of the new tab page’s functionality.

Firefox Home Tab phase one mockupThe Firefox home tab is a lot more exciting. Basically there are two phases: The first phase will add “launchers” at the bottom — one-click links to your downloads, settings, apps, and so on (pictured right). Phase two is a complete reworking of the home page paradigm, weaving in favorite apps, recent websites, and even instant messaging (pictured below). Phase one is expected to roll out with Firefox 12, but at the time of writing the code still hasn’t been committed.

In other news, Firefox 12 will also bring URL autocompletion to the Firefox address (née awesome) bar, ala Chrome. Firefox 12 is also meant to be the release that heralds deeper web app integration, much in the same way that Chrome features apps and favorite sites on its new tab page. This is meant to be built into Firefox’s home tab, but again as that hasn’t yet landed, this might not make it into Firefox 12.

Firefox Home Tab phase 2 mockup

Update @ 12:15 ET: In a perfect example of why you shouldn’t rely on Nightly builds, the New Tab Page has actually been removed from the latest Nightly. If you want to try it out, you’ll either have to wait until it’s put back in (hopefully tonight or tomorrow), or use the UX Nightly build.

If you want to try out the new tab page, download the Firefox Nightly. You then need to visit about:config and set the value of browser.newtabpage.enabled to true (double click it). You then need to set the value of browser.newtab.url to about:newtab (again, double click it and type it in). Finalize the changes by restarting your browser.

If you’d rather wait for the real thing, Firefox 12 will filter down to the official, stable channel at the end of April.

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