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All about Google Chrome & Google Chrome OS
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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.

See related:

Article source: http://www.zdnet.com/new-chrome-extension-the-play-is-with-chrome-os-7000008690/

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15 Jun 12 Is Chrome OS Ready for Prime Time?


Are you ready for Chrome OS? Will your kids use a cloud-based computer? Picture: zcopley/Flickr

JR Raphael has posted his take over at Computerworld on the new Chrome OS and Chromebooks after spending the last two weeks with his head in Google’s cloud.

His personal perspective on the Chromebook’s evolution:

After two weeks of using Google’s evolved Chrome OS on the new Chromebook and Chromebox, personally, I’m sold.  I have no doubt that I’ll replace my old first-gen Samsung Chromebook with the new model and use it heavily for portable computing, both around the house and out and about…

What about Android tablets? I still have one — and use it — but to be honest, I find myself reaching for the Chromebook more often lately…

And Raphael is even considering Chrome OS for a desktop replacement:

Based on my experiences with the new setup, I’m actually tempted to move even further and embrace Chrome OS as my primary desktop platform, too, by way of the Chromebox.

How could he be so sold? One biggie, which I think could herald the dawn of personal clouds replacing PCs:

Startup speed aside, the Chrome OS systems make a lot of things about traditional computing environments feel outdated: the cumbersome setup and installation procedures; the annoying and time-consuming OS upgrades; the need to manually update applications over time; the need to use antivirus software (and the accompanying likelihood and potential consequences of infection); the reliance on complicated drivers; and the inevitable bogged-down, slowed-down effect that always seems to happen to PCs after you’ve had ‘em for a few months.

Chrome OS doesn’t have any of those hassles. It’s just about getting online and getting stuff done, plain and simple. Most of the annoyances that have long accompanied computer use are nowhere to be found.

Raphael’s final take:

So, in summary: It’s been an interesting two weeks living in the cloud — enough so that I’m thinking about turning my vacation into a permanent residence.

Read JR Raphael’s full adventure with Chrome OS at Computerworld and have your say: Will you ditch your Mac or PC for Google’s cloudy OS? Will your kids be using a cloud-based PC?

Article source: http://www.wired.com/cloudline/2012/06/chrome-os-prime-time/

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14 Jun 12 Is Chrome OS Ready for Prime Time?


Are your ready for Chrome OS? Will your kids use a cloud-based computer? Picture: zcopley/Flickr

JR Raphael has posted his take over at Computerworld on the new Chrome OS and Chromebooks after spending the last two weeks with his head in Google’s cloud.

His personal perspective on the Chromebook’s evolution:

After two weeks of using Google’s evolved Chrome OS on the new Chromebook and Chromebox, personally, I’m sold.  I have no doubt that I’ll replace my old first-gen Samsung Chromebook with the new model and use it heavily for portable computing, both around the house and out and about…

What about Android tablets? I still have one — and use it — but to be honest, I find myself reaching for the Chromebook more often lately…

And Raphael is even considering Chrome OS for a desktop replacement:

Based on my experiences with the new setup, I’m actually tempted to move even further and embrace Chrome OS as my primary desktop platform, too, by way of the Chromebox.

How could he be so sold? One biggie, which I think could herald the dawn of cloud base PCs hitting the prime time slot:

Startup speed aside, the Chrome OS systems make a lot of things about traditional computing environments feel outdated: the cumbersome setup and installation procedures; the annoying and time-consuming OS upgrades; the need to manually update applications over time; the need to use antivirus software (and the accompanying likelihood and potential consequences of infection); the reliance on complicated drivers; and the inevitable bogged-down, slowed-down effect that always seems to happen to PCs after you’ve had ‘em for a few months.

Chrome OS doesn’t have any of those hassles. It’s just about getting online and getting stuff done, plain and simple. Most of the annoyances that have long accompanied computer use are nowhere to be found.

Raphael’s final take:

So, in summary: It’s been an interesting two weeks living in the cloud — enough so that I’m thinking about turning my vacation into a permanent residence.

Read JR Raphael’s full adventure with Chrome OS at Computerworld and have your say: Will you ditch your Mac or PC for Google’s cloudy OS? Will your kids be using a cloud-based PC?

Article source: http://www.wired.com/cloudline/2012/06/chrome-os-prime-time/

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13 Jun 12 Even With a Little Polish, Chrome OS Is Still a Bit Hazy


This year, Microsoft and Apple are both introducing new versions of their operating systems with important changes to their user interfaces, and with a flurry of publicity. A third major company is also overhauling its PC operating system, but you probably won’t hear much about it.

Google redesigned its PC operating system, Chrome OS. While Google is a major rival to Apple and Microsoft in things like search, smartphones and browsers, Chrome OS hasn’t dented the competition in the year since it emerged. It was meant to be radically different than Windows and the Macintosh operating system, a refreshing change for a new era. But it had serious limitations, principally that it ran only apps inside a browser on a handful of special, low-powered laptops called Chromebooks and could do almost nothing when it wasn’t online.

The new version, which I’ve been testing, aims to address some of those issues and it makes some progress. But I still can’t recommend it over a PC or Mac for average consumers who are looking for the greatest versatility in a laptop. I still find it more of an evolving project than a finished product.

Its fundamental limitations remain. Most importantly, you still can’t install your favorite programs, be they Microsoft Office or iTunes or Firefox—only a few thousand “Web apps” that run inside the Chrome browser. And it still only works on specific hardware: that laptop called the Chromebook or—new this year—a small desktop called a Chromebox. The only hardware maker producing the 2012 versions of these machines so far is Samsung, though Google says more are coming.

PTECHjp1

New Chrome OS allows for multiple windows and has a taskbar at the bottom like Windows.

Chrome OS does have some admirable qualities—especially its philosophy of simplicity and of being wedded to the cloud. For instance, because it’s designed to fetch your apps and documents from the Internet, you can replicate your entire computer by just logging in on any other Chrome OS PC. And, if you mainly use the Web and live in the cloud, it may be the ticket for you, especially as a second machine.

Last year’s inaugural version of Chrome OS was little more than a giant browser in which you ran only Web-based apps. The new redesign of Chrome OS, released late last month, represents something of a retreat from that dramatic strategy.

Now, Google is touting the new release for features that make it look and work more like a Windows PC or Mac—for instance, multiple, movable windows; a strip along the bottom that holds the icons of apps you use; a slightly greater emphasis on doing things offline; and greater focus on finding and launching apps. None of this is revolutionary for people used to traditional computers.

What Chrome OS is exactly can be confusing. While it looks and works a lot like the browser of the same name, Chrome OS is a full-blown operating system that, unlike the Chrome browser, can’t be installed on PCs and Macs. Also, Chrome OS is unrelated to Google’s best-known operating system, Android. The latter is meant to power smartphones, tablets and some other miscellaneous devices.

PTECHjp2

Chrome OS still only works on specific hardware: a laptop called the Chromebook or—new this year—a small desktop called a Chromebox.

I tested the redesigned Chrome OS on the new Samsung Chromebook, a model which Google claims has up to three times the performance of the original Chromebook. This laptop has a 12-inch screen, weighs 3.3 pounds and is about 0.8 of an inch thick. I didn’t run a formal battery test on it, but Samsung claims it gets up to six hours on a charge, less than the claims for the MacBook Air or the new Windows ultrabooks. In my tests, the battery easily lasted a full day in light to moderate use. The Chromebook is sold online and costs $450. A model that includes a slow, 3G cellular modem is $100 more. The Chromebox desktop is a small box that comes without a screen, mouse, or keyboard, and sells for $330.

Because it’s primarily meant as a portal to the Internet, the Chromebook has only about as much storage as a smartphone: 16 gigabytes, rather than the hundreds of gigabytes common in other laptops. And it has a wimpy processor, one of Intel’s entry-level Celeron models.

In my tests, the new Chromebook performed well and did everything it promised. Unlike in the first iteration, I was able to use multiple independent windows and to minimize them or resize them easily. I could store frequently used apps, which still run in browser pages, in the bottom strip, similar to the Windows taskbar or Mac dock—again, nothing new there, but a welcome addition.

I was also able to play music and videos, to view and edit photos, and to view (but not edit) Microsoft Office documents. These abilities are a good thing, but also have been long available on other operating systems.

In the next month or two, Google plans to automatically update Chrome with two important features: the integration of Google’s online file-storage locker, Google Drive, right into the Chromebook’s file system; and the ability to edit documents when offline. I was able to test pre-release versions of these features and they worked fine. Google Drive can already be installed and integrated into the Windows and Mac file systems.

In fact, all of the important features of the Chrome OS—which is still at heart just a big browser—are available in the Windows and Mac versions of the Chrome browser, including the ability to run Web apps, programs like Google’s office suite, or Web-based games. Google concedes this, but says that, by making the whole computer a browser, it has simplified the overall experience.

Google has big plans for the Chrome OS. It has built-in features it claims will work great with future touch-screen hardware.

But, overall, I’d say, if you only have the budget for one main computer, you’re better off with a Mac or a PC.

Write to Walt at walt.mossberg@wsj.com.

Article source: http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/even-little-polish-chrome-os-010910922.html

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31 May 12 Google Says Android, Chrome OS Will Eventually Converge


There’s no Chrome OS tablet in the works. Instead, the notebook OS will converge with Android.

During a briefing on Tuesday to introduce the new Samsung Chromebook and Chromebox, Google’s vice president of engineering Linus Upson said that the company is not working on a Chrome OS tablet. Instead, Google expects to see a slow convergence between Chrome OS and its popular mobile platform for tablets and smartphones, Android.

“We have our hands full in delivering a wonderful experience on desktop and laptop and the Android team have their hands full bringing a great experience on phone and tablet,” he said. “But the two teams are working together even more closely.”

Upson said that although there will be a slow convergence between the two operating systems, that doesn’t mean Google will eventually have one platform spread across multiple devices. Apple’s success with Mac OS and iOS proves that different devices need separate operating systems.

There’s also no horse race between Android and Chrome OS, he said. Google instead determines what is right for the end-user and figures out how to build the right experience based on that.

“The use cases in technology stacks on phone and tablet are very different to desktop and laptop, as are the user expectations, and the types of things you do are also very different,” Upton said. “That’s why everyone has two different solutions for these problems. Apple has Mac OS and iOS, Microsoft has two – they just happen to call them both Windows – and at Google we do the same.”

He said that everyone expects to see Chrome OS and Android come together so that consumers get the best of both platforms. “Apple doesn’t try to smash the two together and we’re not trying to do it, but in time there will be a seamless user experience across all the devices,” he added.

The first signs of convergence can already be seen thanks to Chrome for Android. Currently the browser is only for Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” and above, limiting the full Chrome experience to a handful of smartphones and tablets. However the browser is also on Microsoft and Apple devices and operating systems, providing a more universal experience.

“With Chrome on Android and Chrome OS and Chrome on Windows or on Mac, you get the same web browsing experience everywhere,” he said. “So we’re seeing convergence slowly over time and doing the right thing for users.”

Article source: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Google-Android-Chrome-OS-Chromebook-Chromebox,news-15400.html

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18 May 12 Hands-on with the new tab synchronization feature in Chrome 19


Google has rolled out a new release of Chrome in the stable channel. The update, version 19, uses the Chrome synchronization framework to introduce support for sharing open tabs between instances of the browser. The update also brings a number of security fixes and other minor improvements.

Google first lifted the curtain on its plans for browser synchronization in 2009. The feature was implemented on top of the XMPP protocol, enabling real-time propagation of synchronized data. Chrome presently supports synchronizing form autofill data, passwords, autocompletion history, extensions, and settings. The new version expands the lineup by adding support for tabs.

The tab support is implemented differently than some of the other synchronization features. Instead of trying to keep the same set of tabs open and active across all instances, Chrome instead provides a convenient menu for launching tabs that are open in other instances of the browser. This behavior is similar to how tab synchronization is implemented in Firefox. The menu for accessing remote tabs, which is titled Other Devices, is integrated into the browser’s new tab page next to the recently closed tab menu.

When the menu is clicked, it will show a list of available tabs grouped by device. When an item in the menu is clicked, it will open in a new tab within the local instance of Chrome. The menu will also show you how much time has elapsed since updating the tab information from a specific device.


We tested the synchronization feature on several computers, including a Windows desktop computer, a Windows netbook, and a MacBook Air. It worked consistently and predictably across those platforms. We also attempted to test it on a Samsung Chromebook that is running the latest Aura environment from the developer channel, but the Other Devices menu wasn’t available in that build. During our tests, we found that the tab data propagated very quickly between instances of the browser.

When you quit Chrome on a given device, the tabs that were open at the time the browser was terminated will remain accessible in the remote tab list. This tab persistence feature is useful in many situations where a user might want to take advantage of tab synchronization. If you are surfing the Web at the office and suspend your computer when you leave for the day, for example, you will be able to pick up your session when you get home.

One limitation we encountered with tab persistence is that it doesn’t work right on Windows in some cases. If the user only has a single browser window open and quits Chrome by closing that window, the tabs in that window get dropped from the menu. Windows users can work around that limitation by remembering to quit the browser from the wrench menu or keyboard shortcut instead of closing the window. It’s possible that this issue was a simple oversight that will be corrected in future versions.

The tab synchronization feature is designed to be compatible with the Chrome for Android beta. Unfortunately, Chrome for Android is currently only available on devices that run Android 4, codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich. Google doesn’t presently offer browser sync support for older versions of Android and doesn’t provide an official client application for accessing the relevant information.

Our only complaint with Google’s otherwise excellent tab sync implementation is that there doesn’t appear to be a way to get your tab list outside of Chrome. As far as we can tell, Google doesn’t provide a Web interface for accessing your open tabs from other browsers. Such a feature would be really useful, especially on mobile devices that can’t run Chrome.

Chrome sync and iOS

A recent analyst note suggests that Google may be working on a version of Chrome for Apple’s iOS mobile platform. Assuming that the analyst who authored said note isn’t just huffing bong water, such a port would theoretically provide a path for iOS users to consume Chrome sync data on their mobile devices. Due to the restrictions that Apple imposes on its mobile operating system, we think it’s extremely unlikely that Google will ever release an actual implementation of Chrome for iOS.

If there is any truth to the rumor, we suspect that the application in question is merely a sync client in the same vein as Mozilla’s Firefox Home application. It’s possible for an application of that nature to wrap the built-in WebKit renderer that ships with iOS, but it’s important to understand that the result would not technically be Chrome. There are a number of unique features, including a custom JavaScript engine, that differentiate Google’s Chrome browser from other WebKit-based browsers.

Google’s sync implementation is really excellent, but a solid Web interface and comprehensive mobile solution are still needed. It’d also be nice to have a set of simple REST APIs that enable third-party software products to securely integrate with Google sync and interoperate with the service. When Google fits those final pieces into the puzzle, it will have a winning synchronization solution.

The new version of Chrome is available from Google’s website. For more details about the update, you can refer to the official release announcement.

Article source: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/05/hands-on-with-the-new-tab-synchronization-feature-in-chrome-19/

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11 Oct 11 Hands-on: Chrome Remote Desktop Beta free and easy to use, no speed demon


Google has unveiled a remote desktop service allowing connections between any two systems running the Chrome browser, regardless of operating system. As usual with Google, there’s a big emphasis on the “beta” tag in the Chrome Remote Desktop BETA, which is ready for the public to use, but mostly exists to demonstrate Google Chrome Remoting technology and get feedback from users.

In other words, Google is cautioning users not to expect a fully-fledged remote desktop experience. Yet despite some performance glitches, the beta shows promise. Remote desktop technology certainly is nothing new, but Google’s is free, at least for now, and extremely easy to set up. It is currently being targeted at IT helpdesk scenarios, but “additional use cases such as being able to access your own computer remotely are coming soon,” Google says.

All you need are two computers running the Chrome browser. In each, navigate to the Chrome Web Store to install the remote desktop extension, while granting the software permission to access “all data on your computer and the websites you visit.” I tested it out today using a MacBook Air, a Samsung Chromebook and an old Dell Latitude D620 running Ubuntu Linux.

After installing the Chrome extension, click the Remote Desktop icon from the new tab page, and then click the “share this computer” button. This will generate a 12-digit one-time access code that must be typed into a second computer in order to grant it remote access privileges to the first. The shared desktop appears within a Chrome browser tab.

The remote desktop session lets you manipulate the remote computer in most of the ways you’d expect, for example clicking on browser links, opening applications and viewing the file system. But while mouse-clicking works fine, the two-finger scroll on a Mac or Chromebook trackpad didn’t work for me. There was also an annoying little popup informing me that my desktop is being shared, which I could move off to the side but not completely remove from the screen.

A full-screen option puts the entire remote desktop into the Chrome browser tab, but with lower resolution. Viewing at the higher quality is better overall, although you have to scroll up and down to see the whole desktop. This was problematic in Chrome on Mac, because the two-finger scroll didn’t work and I could never get the scroll bar itself to work during a remote desktop session. The scroll bar worked just fine on the Chromebook, however, resulting in a much smoother ride.

While a Windows, Linux or Mac desktop can be shared with a Chromebook, the Chromebook desktop cannot be accessed remotely at this time. During testing, I mostly used the remote desktop tool with the Chromebook, Mac and Linux computers, but I was able to verify that it does work with Windows by connecting to a Windows 7 VM on the Mac.

Performance was decent when connecting computers that were both on my home WiFi network. While accessing the Mac from the Ubuntu machine, typed characters registered on both screens almost simultaneously. But there were sometimes delays of several seconds when switching from one application to another.

There were also glitches in accessing the Linux computer from the Mac, with the Chrome extension in Ubuntu crashing a couple of times. The Chromebook was not always able to establish a connection with Ubuntu, but when connecting to the Mac the Chromebook provided a reliable and relatively quick experience.

Chromebooks can already access Windows applications through Google’s technology partnership with Citrix’s virtualization team. But that solution is mostly focused on business customers. Giving users a free and simple way to connect to computers remotely could increase the appeal of the Chromebook, which is limited compared to Windows, Mac and Linux, because it forces all applications to work in the browser.

While I’ve mostly been using Chrome Remote Desktop to connect computers on the same WiFi network, I also switched my Chromebook to Verizon 3G to see if using two different Internet connections would harm performance. The Chromebook on 3G can still make the remote desktop connection and perform reasonably well, but lags a few seconds behind when switching from one application to another. The 3G problems aside, the Remote Desktop application worked best on the whole from within the Chromebook, which is good news if Google intends to make this a selling point for its browser-only Chrome OS operating system.

The Chrome extension has been downloaded more than 30,000 times and been given strong ratings by users.

“It’s simple to use and it works,” one user writes in the Chrome Web Store reviews. But the same user noted that it’s difficult to use when accessing one’s own computer from a remote location, because someone needs to provide an access code. (One way around this would be to grab the access code before you leave home. But the code does change every time you use it, so if you drop the connection and have to reconnect, you’d have to get a new code.) Others noted performance problems, with one user saying “needs speed when running applications and manipulating software in general,” and another complained that left-clicking the Windows 7 start button didn’t work and that overall performance was “very, very slow and unresponsive.”

Given that the application was just released in beta a few days ago, it should get significantly better over time if Google sticks with the project. “So far it works as good as some paid software I’ve used,” one user writes. “I hope Google continues to improve this because this will help me troubleshoot my family’s PC issues.”

Article source: http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2011/10/hands-on-chrome-remote-desktop-beta-free-and-easy-to-use-but-no-speed-demon.ars?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss

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