Google Chrome Beta

Google yesterday announced a new beta release of Chrome browser. Following Firefox 3.5 tremendous success, this version of Chrome is expected to be somewhat a hit amoung geeks (atleast). The Chrome blog claims that this release is 30% more faster than the older release on both V8 and SunSpider.

The key distinguishing features that can be noted in this release are (other than the speed)

  • Ability to customize the new tab page - Its all yours now and you can drag-drop your favs, organize your most visited sites, remove some if you dont want that to popup and lot more.
  • Improved Omnibox - For me, Omnibox is the key feature of chrome (firefox and IE, both lag this feature). This helps you get into the site you are looking for with just few key strokes and with this release, google has optimized the presentation of the drop down menu and added little icons to distingush between suggested sites, searches, bookmarks and sites from browsing history
  • Tweaking the chrome - You now have the ability to change the way your browser looks - By changing the themes and this can be done simply by visiting the Themes Gallery
  • HTML 5 capabilities - Looks like most of the browsers (of course excluding IE) will hence forth support HTML5 features.Video tag functionality and web workers are included in this release of Chrome. This is inline with Firefox 3.5 support of these features.
  • Better speed - Beyond the improvements in JavaScript execution in this latest beta, there are a host of other improvements that should help Google Chrome make the most of your network connection. For example, when you open a new web page while other web pages are still loading, Google Chrome is now smarter about prioritizing the requests for the new page -- for instance, fetching text, images, and video for your new page -- ahead of the requests from the older pages. Loading pages on this beta release should also be faster than ever with DNS caching, more efficient DOM bindings, and using V8 for proxy auto-config.

Ever since the release of the Chrome, I have been using it for my non-work related stuff - For mail checking, browsing etc. The main reason behind this is speed and efficiency. Undoubtedly Firefox 3.5 is quite faster, but one thing that irritates me is the memory usage.Usually for me, if I keep my firefox window open for the whole day, the memory usage goes upto 500mb (depending on usage) and I am forced to restart the browser. Chrome does not eat so much memory and the other good feature I like is each tab in Chrome is treated a separate process (in a windows environment) and if I think a particular site is taking much memory, I can simply just close that tab (I have heard that even Firefox is going to implement this feature in their future releases)

In another post in the official Google blog, google announced the acquisition of On2 Technologies, a leading creator of high quality video compression technology. This is in tandem of Chrome's support of HTML5 video tag. I had earlier posted how different browser makers differ in the usage of video compression technology and this is probably an effort from google to ease out that so that the video functionality gets included into html specification sooner.

Google chrome beta can be downloaded here.

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Hilary Clinton and Aamir Khan at Teach India event

For one hour on Saturday afternoon in the majestic wood-panelled hall of St Xaviers College, Hillary Clinton addressed an audience, not so much as American secretary of state or as someone who lived in the White House for eight years, but as a mother and teacher
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Native Audio and Video dropped from HTML 5 Specification

A sad day for all web developers (and internet users in general)  who were looking forward for the audio/video support in the upcoming HTML 5 specification. World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recently announced that despite its efforts it could not include the audio and video codex in the final specificaion as there was no suitable codex that all browser vendors are willing to implement and ship.This feature was much awaited feature in HTML 5 by which browsers were to be made more powerful especially for features for online live video/audio streaming etc.

The original draft specification for HTML 5 included

  • Apple refuses to implement Ogg Theora in Quicktime by default (as used by Safari), citing lack of hardware support and an uncertain patent landscape.
  • Google has implemented H.264 and Ogg Theora in Chrome, but cannot provide the H.264 codec license to third-party distributors of Chromium, and have indicated a belief that Ogg Theora's quality-per-bit is not yet suitable for the volume handled by YouTube.
  • Opera refuses to implement H.264, citing the obscene cost of the relevant patent licenses.
  • Mozilla refuses to implement H.264, as they would not be able to obtain a license that covers their downstream distributors.
  • Microsoft has not commented on their intent to support

But good thing is that he has kept the option open for future and he gives the following two possibilites

  1.  Ogg Theora encoders continue to improve. Off-the-shelf hardware Ogg Theora decoder chips become available. Google ships support for the codec for long enough without getting sued that Apple's concern regarding submarine patents is reduced. => Theora becomes the de facto codec for the Web.
  2. The remaining H.264 baseline patents owned by companies who are not willing to license them royalty-free expire, leading to H.264 support being available without license fees. => H.264 becomes the de facto codec for the Web.

So till then developers have to live with the alternate features like , and plugin APIs, or Web fonts and font formats.Even Companies like Google were betting high on this feature for its upcoming product Google Wave and it will be interesting to see how this would effect the development efforts there.

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