Google Chrome 5 for Windows, Linux and Mac released

Finally, after a long journey of waiting, releases and looking jealously at all those Windows users, it's here. Google released Chrome 5 for all three major platforms, delivering their promise to support both Mac and Linux as well.

Not only is this the first cross-platform release for Google, but it's also a new major release by itself. One of the new features is actually an extension of the bookmarks sync functionality. In Chrome 5 it's now possible to sync settings. It's also possible to configure extensions to work in Incognito-mode (by default everything is off). Suffice to say that extensions work cross-platform as they are build using the latest web technologies on top of Chrome's public API. Talking about the web, Chrome 5 includes several HTML5 additions, such as: Geolocation APIs, App Cache, Web Sockets, and file drag-and-drop (as demoed at the Google I/O with Gmail). Other features include a revamped bookmark manager (feels more like Opera now, as it works in a tab) as well as a currently disabled integrated Flash Player. Yes, Flash, disabled. In the near future when Flash Player 10.1 is done it will be enabled. The integrated Flash has a big advantage, as it is automatically updated by Chrome itself, instead of manual labour.

You can download this cutting edge web browser from Google from the official Chrome site. It also contains some videos to convince you of its unique features (such as its multi-process architecture and superb rendering speed).

Google announces WebM, the open web media format

During the first day of the Google I/O conference in San Francisco the good fellows of the search giant announced WebM a new open web media format. Why is this important? Well, it seems that this could be the end game for the HTML5 video element.

Not as in the end of HTML5, but the controversy surrounding the video element itself, which didn't limit the codec used to render video. This led to fragmentation as both Mozilla Firefox and Opera only supported open and patent-free standards like Ogg Theora. The competition, including Apple Safari and Google Chrome did add support for the software patent infested H.264, making it hard to target all browsers at once. The newly announced WebM project is here to end it. With a new standard based on the VP8 codec from the recently purchased On2 Technologies, Google is opening up a new codec that offers better quality than Ogg Theora (while still using Ogg Vorbis for audio), as well as keeping it open and patent-free.

But announcing just a new codec isn't going to help by itself. For it to succeed Google needed friends and here there! On the software side both Mozilla and Opera have joined the league, Microsoft announced that IE9 will enable VP8 if it's installed, making Apple the only one left. But there is more, yes Adobe Flash is there too. Other software parties are: (Google/OHA) Android OS, CoreCodec, Skype and more. But software isn't everything, hardware acceleration would be nice too, so the following hardware companies joined as well: AMD, ARM, Broadcom, freescale, Imagination, Logitech, Marvel, MIPS, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and more. Of course, being Google means that this time all videos on YouTube will be available in an HTML 5 with WebM combination.

Google promises that tonight the new codec will be added to Chromium (and end up somewhat later in the development stream of builds), while both Mozilla and Opera already released the first test builds of their respective browsers. Hopefully the world will adopt this one standard so we can all enjoy the unity.

Firefox 4 roadmap unveiled

The folks at Mozilla finally unveiled a new roadmap for Firefox, which has been vague after the release of Firefox 3.6. Where first were talks of Firefox 3.7 and Firefox 4.0, there is now only one.

Logically the one to survive is Firefox 4.0, which is aimed to be released this year. Firefox 3.7 is no more, and the top changes of that release are scattered around other releases. For instance Firefox 3.6.4 actually contains the plug-in process separation (like Safari 4), while the theme changes require more time and will appear in Firefox 4.

With the increased competition from Chrome and Opera, but also Internet Explorer and Safari, several main goals have been set for the upcoming release. Being the second most popular web browser, that is not part of some major corporation can be though, but if most of the features will make it in the final release, there's still a lot going for.

First is of course the new theme. Firefox 4 will finally use Aero Glass in Windows Vista and 7 and less screen space, while the Mac release will look more like Safari or Finder, which less dominating buttons. Platform integration has been important for Firefox 3, but they surely lacked in the Windows department with this (Mac and Linux variants look decent).

Speed is the most important thing today, with Chrome and Opera fighting with each other for the speed king crown, Safari is always close by as a third. The team at Microsoft is working hard to unlock the power of the GPU to accelerate IE9 (which will also have a newish JavaScript engine), while WebKit developers work in silence on the upcoming WebKit2. Firefox made TraceMonkey in the later releases, but this engine simply couldn't compete directly in all the benchmarks with Chrome's V8, Opera's Carakan or Safari's Nitro. So instead the folks at Mozilla are looking at the competition, and what's that, they are actually thinking of using parts of WebKit's JavaScript engine (which Apple calls Nitro) to patch those nasty slow parts and dubbed it JaegerMonkey. But who said Microsoft couldn't innovate? Firefox 4 for Windows will get Direct2D support to enhance rendering speed (something we might see in some later release in Opera through their Vega library.

Other changes that are planned for Firefox 4 are: Jetpack (a more simple extensions framework, that does not require reboots for instance), HTML5 and other new web technologies, a new add-on manager, Aero Peek, Aero overlays, 64-bit support, and much, much more.

According to the preliminary roadmap we can expect a first beta somewhere at the end of June, which will be followed by a long range of beta releases, with an expected release date in October/November. Exciting indeed, to see some really big changes from Mozilla!

Opera 10.53 for Windows and Mac released

Soon after the long awaited Opera 10.52 releases comes 10.53, which focuses on a highly severe security fix. Suffice to say that this is a recommended update for all Opera users.

Both the Windows and Mac platforms have received this update, and also includes two small changes: CORE-29447 (Possible vulnerability (SA39590: Writing Uninitialised Memory Vulnerability)), CORE-28262 (Fixed order of dialog.ini loading to make the one in the custom folder work), and CARAKAN-1278 (Freeze on Google Maps).

Those with Opera should receive the update automatically, but it can also be triggered from the Help menu. If you (also) want the full binary, you can get it from Opera's web site.

Opera 10.52 for Windows and Mac released

A new maintenance build for Windows, but the first final build for Mac. Opera Software unleashed Opera 10.52, which shows that the Norwegians are still capable of simultaneous releases on multiple platforms.

Of course Linux users will be disappointed that they still don't have a final release, even no beta release. But the good folks of Opera Software are working hard on it and at the very least you could say that they give love to each and every platform. Just take a look at the Mac build, which according to Opera's own benchmarks is one of the fastest browsers (after Chrome 5 Beta), and now integrates nicely with the Mac look and feel (and even Growl).

For Windows users this release comes with some well deserved fixes: a crash on closing tab with PDF plugin, issues with pages never stop loading, issues with caching, an issue with opening email attachments, an issue with access to Unite administration pages, a crash with various third-party apps on Facebook, and an issue were mails could be lost when upgrading from Opera 9.27.

For more information, the downloads and of course a place to leave feedback, go to the Opera Desktop Team's blog.

Opera 10.52 Beta 2 for Mac released

While Windows users can enjoy the Opera 10.5 for some time now, Mac users are still limited to beta releases. Today Opera Software released the second beta for the Mac, after which the final should follow in the coming month. Linux users will have to wait a while longer until their first beta appears.

Of course users of all three platforms can also try out the latest snapshots posted on the Opera Desktop Team's blog, but for a more stable experience, the beta are recommended. The highlights in this release are: generally improved scrolling with added support for scrolling with momentum , support for VoiceOver screen-access, faster domain name lookup on Mac OS 10.6, and support for Mac OS 10.4 and greater on Intel and PPC.

You can find the full download and the entire changelog on the Opera Desktop Team's blog.

Opera Mini 5 for iPhone OS

For the first time an alternative browser has been released for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Opera Mini 5 has been approved by Apple for the App Store, while many doubted if it would be approved.

Apple has one of the most strict approval processes, which for instance blocks Flash, Java and competitive products (such as a mail alternative) because it creates confusion. However Opera Mini 5 was approved, which seems a little bit strange. Did Opera Software somehow threaten Apple or is Opera Mini 5 simply much more different compared to Safari Mobile?

Opera Mini 5 offers standard features like tab support, but also favorite Opera specific features like Speed Dial, an address field with auto-completion, and of course Opera Link for all your syncing abilities. The biggest differentiator is no doubt Opera Turbo, which according to Opera Software should introduce some steep speed improvements in downloading and rendering web pages.

As with all iPhone OS applications, you can find it in the App Store on your iDevice or .

The pale blue dot.

The spacecraft was a long way from home.

I thought it would be a good idea, just after Saturn, to have them take one last glance homeward. From Saturn, the Earth would appear too small for Voyager to make out any detail. Our planet would be just a point of light, a lonely pixel hardly distinguishable from the other points of light Voyager would see: nearby planets, far off suns. But precisely because of the obscurity of our world thus revealed, such a picture might be worth having.

It had been well understood by the scientists and philosophers of classical antiquity that the Earth was a mere point in a vast, encompassing cosmos—but no one had ever seen it as such. Here was our first chance, and perhaps also our last for decades to come.

So, here they are: a mosaic of squares laid down on top of the planets in a background smattering of more distant stars. Because of the reflection of sunlight off the spacecraft, the Earth seems to be sitting in a beam of light, as if there were some special significance to this small world; but it's just an accident of geometry and optics. There is no sign of humans in this picture: not our reworking of the Earth's surface; not our machines; not ourselves. From this vantage point, our obsession with nationalisms is nowhere in evidence. We are too small. On the scale of worlds, humans are inconsequential: a thin film of life on an obscure and solitary lump of rock and metal.

Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you've ever heard of, every human being who ever was lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings; thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines; every hunter and forager; every hero and coward; every creator and destroyer of civilizations; every king and peasant, every young couple in love; every mother and father; hopeful child; inventor and explorer; every teacher of morals; every corrupt politician; every supreme leader; every superstar; every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there—on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.

Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings; how eager they are to kill one another; how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity—in all this vastness—there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the only home we've ever known.

The pale blue dot.

Many thanks to Gizmodo for posting this reminder. The film was made by David Fu, which contains the voiced writings of Carl Sagan, accompanied by the music from Mogwai, “Stop Coming To My House”.

WebKit2, beyond Google Chrome

Last week Apple announced the iPhone OS 4 SDK, but besides receiving multi-tasking capabilities, social gaming, iAds and more, there was also a silent announcement for WebKit2. As you may know WebKit is the core of Apple's Safari (Mobile), but also Google Chrome, and Android browsers.

After a little surprise for the open WebKit world, the new engine seems to be welcomed warmly. The thing is, just like Google did with Chrome, that Apple worked on WebKit2 behind closed doors, without input from the open-source community. WebKit itself was also created by Apple, but was opened up for all to see and use, making it possible to migrate changes from WebKit into the original KHTML.

The thing is that WebKit2 is more of a name than something like a complete rewrite of every component. The effect of WebKit2's changes are nonetheless significant. The WebKit2 projects aims to deliver a "split process model" and a "non-blocking API".

Of course a split process model must sound familiar. Two years or so back Google announced Chrome which introduced a per tab (or domain) split process for the web browser. This means that some "overhead" would be introduced to have independent renderers of each web site, but would not only mean a much greater stability (if a page crashes, the rest of the browser simply continues to work), but also increased security as everything is separated. Although work on plug-ins is still going on (the plug-in API needs to be adapted for this), they were also separated from the rendering stack, which also found its way in Safari 4 for Snow Leopard and the latest Firefox nightlies. But WebKit2 does it a little different from Chrome, as Chrome actually sits on-top of WebKit to separate everything, WebKit 2 does everything already inside the engine. This approach has one huge benefit that anyone using WebKit2 can use this, think of Safari 5, Safari Mobile (for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad) and others.

Another interesting thing about WebKit2 is the non-blocking API. More and more do web sites make use of technologies like JavaScript through AJAX (or similar with JSON) and HTML5. A lot of processing is done asynchronously and this means that WebKit2 is designed to offer better ways to deal with the problems that arise from this.

As you can see, WebKit2 not only stands on the principles introduced by Google Chrome, but polishes them for Apple's own purposes, where other can benefit from. Hopefully we'll see a Safari 5 build somewhere this year to play with. The only browser that's truly left behind is Opera (IE 8 has some form of process isolation already).

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