Last week Google officially brought Chrome apps to Android and iOS, thanks to the release of a beta version of their new Apache Cordova-based toolkit. This tool essentially ‘converts’ these Chrome web apps into what look and act like native apps.
This alone was a pretty ambitious project, but it seems Google’s plans for Chrome apps don’t end there. According to the Next Web, Google looks to be preparing a minimal environment that will let Chrome packaged apps run without needing the whole Chrome process.
App_shell could lead to a platform-agnostic approach that would allow app developers to write the code once and then easily create apps that work on a variety of OSes.
Although Google has yet to comment on its plans, evidence of this effort comes from a readme for an experimental project called app_shell. The goal of app_shell is reportedly to allow apps to run most Chrome extension APIs without running the rest of Chrome.
What this potentially means is that Google could create web apps that are lightweight and browser-independent. These apps would also have access to all the Chrome APIs that allow functionality beyond a typical web app.
At least in theory, that means app_shell could lead to a platform-agnostic approach that would allow app developers to write the code once and then easily create apps that work on a variety of OSes including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Chrome OS. While this is already possible to a point, the big difference is that these apps would be free of Chrome and the full Chrome process, making them much more convenient and practical.
Of course, it’s important to note that if Google succeeds at creating Chrome and OS independent web apps, they’re still going to have disadvantages over native apps. The biggest disadvantage is that they probably won’t perform nearly as efficiently, though the drop in performance may be worth it for some app developers.
Bottom-line, Google sees a real future in Chrome apps, with or without Chrome attached to it.
Opera has spent 2013 revamping their entire mobile browser interface. Earlier this year, we reviewed all the big changes to Opera Browser. With their latest big update, there is now a brand new Opera tablet UI that optimizes the look and feel for tablets. If you’d rather watch than read, check out the video above.
Opera tablet UI
Even though there are a lot of changes, many of them are subtle. To start, Opera takes advantage of the increased screen real estate on tablet screens by using a real tab system like you’d find on desktop browsers. This differs from the phone browser which uses the Chrome-like Square with numbers to denote tabs open.
Another change you’ll notice is the settings menu. Instead of opening the settings to the full screen, you instead get a windowed settings menu that you can click out of without using the back button. It looks nice and it doesn’t make you reach for that back button.
Other UI enhancements involve moving as many things to the left and right sides as possible. Adding things to the Speed Dial is now in the top right where you can get it to it with your thumb. Replacing it on the left side of the address bar, where it is on phones, is an icon that’ll take you quickly to speed dial.
Aside from moving buttons around, the new settings, and the actual tabs, everything else remains the same. Since there is more screen real estate, the app feels like it makes better use of the space and everything looks more spaced out and comfortable. It does not have that cramped feeling of a phone browser and we liked that a lot.
Overall, we liked this new UI improvement. It really takes advantage of the space provided by tablets while maintaining a user friendly interface by putting essential functions within the reach of a thumb. If you’re looking for a browser on your tablet, it’s worth giving this one a shot. You can pick it up by clicking the button.
[#protected_0#] has had a less than stellar history with Android in the past, but it seems to be quite intent on making up for that. If these latest sightings become reality, then we might be seeing two new Android devices from the PC maker, one of which might just be HP’s first Android smartphone.
The first of the devices, the HP Browser 10 x2, seems to be taking a page out of the Slatebook x2. This device is rumored to be a tablet/notebook hybrid, sporting the same detachable keyboard arrangement. It is running on an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, just like the Slatebook x2. Unlike the older device however, the Browser 10 x2 is only sports a strange 1920
Dolphin, the popular mobile web browser, is anything but ambitious. The company is now announcing a partnership with several big names in the international search engine business in its efforts to expand into the global market, potentially snubbing search giant Google in the process.
Dolphin’s new partners are the search engine leaders in their respective countries, including Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China, Yahoo! Japan, and the privacy-oriented DuckDuckGo. This is part of the company’s campaign to bring more relevant local content and services to its target users in different countries and to become the de facto gateway to the Internet in what Dolphin calls as “mobile-first” countries, where people connect to the Internet primarily or mostly via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
This move takes Dolphin dangerously close to Google’s turf. Google, who started out as a search engine, also develops its own browser, Google Chrome, which is available on desktops and mobile devices. Dolphin CEO Yongzhi Yang concedes that in the US, Google, and Apple, dominate the browser market, but it’s an open market in the global level. Dolphin prides itself in its localization features, with 21 supported languages, focusing on making the web accessible to other countries where Google doesn’t hold much sway.
The competition sounds like David and Goliath and it will be interesting to observe how it plays out in the days ahead. Dolphin, however, might be at a disadvantage even in the so-called “mobile-first” countries. With its focus on mobile platforms, Dolphin, unlike Google, does not have a version of its software for the desktop, which still makes up a substantial number of devices that connect to the Internet.
Boat Browser has been around for awhile and has already garnered millions of downloads. It’s competitive in all the right places and carries a lot of features. Version 6.0 is out now and we’re going to review the whole app, including the new features, to show you why this browser may be a good replacement for you. If you’d rather watch than read, the video is at the bottom.
Let’s talk about what Boat Browser is capable of doing. First and foremost, it is a browser and therefore is capable of doing all the usual browser things like bookmarks, history, adding new tabs, and, you know, browsing the web.
Where this app shines are the other things you can do. To start, there is an app store built into Boat Browser much like Opera Browser has. You can search for apps, themes, and add-ons. The apps and games are nothing special, but the themes and add-ons can help turn the browser is a much more customized experience.
Another great feature are the gestures. You can create your own or just use the ones that come stock to control the browser. In many cases, for sites or actions you perform regularly, gesturing can be much faster. For instance, to go to Google, just draw a “g”.
The last thing we’ll talk about are some of the newer features. You can back-up your bookmarks to cloud storage or your SD card and transfer them between devices. This can also be set up to be done automatically. It can also pair with Firefox browser to import bookmarks if you’d rather do it that way.
How can I use this?
So you may be wondering how you can use Boat Browser. Well it’s a browser so you can use it as such. It can compete feature-for-feature with a lot of big name browsers. It has add-ons like Firefox, various bookmark syncing methods like Chrome, and an app store like Opera. This allows for a comprehensive browsing experience.
It also helps having the small things like gesture controls, day and night modes, and theming. This allows for a more unique browsing experience than many browsers offer and it also happens to be pretty quick in the web browsing department.
What we liked
So here’s what we liked about it. The new bookmark syncing options are a phenomenal step forward. You really can’t have a good browser these days unless you have a number of ways of syncing, importing, and exporting bookmarks. Boat Browser has that.
We really liked the gesture controls. The stock ones are useful but you can create a gesture for any action or site within the browser. We created one that went to AndroidAuthority.com when we swiped a lowercase “A”. We imagine people could get a lot out of functionality like that.
The last thing are the small things, like theming and add-ons. Like the bookmark syncing, the best browsers these days have add-ons and themes. The selection is small for now, but we imagine it’ll grow over time. Add-ons add functionality and theming helps you customize the look. These are all good things.
What we didn’t like
So here is what we didn’t enjoy so much. First and foremost is the design. There is nothing inherently wrong with it because it is just like all the other ones. It looks very much like Opera browser with the speed dial front page and tab placement. The design isn’t bad and customization helps, but if you wanted something that looked different, you may be disappointed.
The gesture controls can be a little fluky. For instance, gesturing the “G” to go to Google took me several tries before it worked. You have to be pretty on the money with gesture controls, otherwise they will not work. It’s not a deal breaker, but sloppiness is not an option with gesture controls.
Final thoughts on Boat Browser
Overall, Boat Browser is actually a great browser. If you’re getting tired of the stock offering or the third party browser you’re currently using, then we recommend you give this one a shot. It’s quick, it’s packed with features, and there are both paid and free options so you can take it for a test drive first.
The design is pretty typical for browsers these days, but it does come with add-ons and themes to help liven things up a little bit. With everything included, it’s a pleasant browsing experience and one we’d recommend. If you want to check it out, click the button below to download.
This weekend there was all sorts of app updates, but a few in particular have been updated as of last night and this morning worth mentioning. Of course, there’s far too many apps to keep track of, but a few important apps were updated and we figured a shout out was in order for things like the Facebook Beta, and our favorite Twitter app.
Today Google issued another update to the stable channel of the Chrome Browser, which doesn’t appear to offer anything other than bug fixes, but the last updated added fullscreen tablet support, translation bar and more so this could be improving those latest features.
Then of course Facebook is still busy pushing out updates to their new Facebook Beta channel. The latest beta changes arriving today are a slew of improvements and bug fixes. Like tons, but sadly there’s no new features. Check out the image below for an idea of the many improvements to Facebook. Hopefully this version hits all devices soon.
Then above you can also see the folks from Robird are sending out an update. It’s one of our favorite Twitter clients as of late, and the UI is seeing some improvements, along with absolute time fixes, and some rate limits. Then it looks like IMDb, the game Stay Alight, and a few others are all getting updated today with more goodies. Drop us a comment for anything else that’s important today in the app update world.
With browsers, we have both the most important and subjective decision of our digital life. An increasing dependence on web-based software makes the browser crucial, and the myriad of choices leaves us wanting for very little. Usually coming down to IE or Chrome, since Safari is happy to stick with Macs, the other choices often aren’t even considered by many.
One of those contenders is Opera, a quiet little dynamo from Norway. Having always been fast and smooth, it just got quite a bit better. The new version is now built on Chromium, the open source framework for the Chrome browser.
Opera already had a really nice engine behind their browser, so why switch to Chromium? It turns out the IE versus Chrome decision may have been having an adverse effect on their place. From the press release:
The new Opera for Windows and Mac runs on a Chromium engine, so you can access all your websites in a blink of an eye and have a smoother experience when you get there, thanks to improved site compatibility. Opera Press release
Site compatibility is paramount for a browser, and Opera had struggled in that arena. Chrome is wildly popular, stable, and built on an open source platform. Like so many do with Android, Opera has taken something wonderful in Chromium and put their own little spin on it. Things like “Stash”, which allow you to store web pages for viewing later, are an Opera service its fans are used to seeing, and will continue to hold onto.
For Opera fans, this is great. Retain all that you love about your browser, and get added compatibility. We’re not sure if this means other compatibility benefits, like Chrome Web Store, but building on Chromium could yield some interesting results. All in all, a smart move for Opera.
Well, if the 50 million downloads have been celebrated with the release of Jetpack, making Dolphin Browser much faster, the 80 million wouldn’t have gone uncelebrated, either. The makers of the browser are doing so with the release of version 10, one that’s filled with important improvements.
The first thing you’ll definitely notice is the new design, a cleaner, more elegant one.
The first thing you’ll definitely notice is a cleaner, more elegant design. You now can swipe to get to menus or history, for example and you can populate your Dolphin Browser home screen with the web apps you need closer to you, for easy access. The even nicer part is that apps can be grouped into folders, by just dragging them one on top of the other, so you can keep things better organized. There are tons of them, so you’ll certainly find something of interest to you.
Also, you have a button which allows to swipe in one of three directions to get to the Sonar feature (Dolphin Browser’s voice search feature), browser menu or the list of currently open tabs, which can be quite handy.
Another nice idea is that you can use the search bar to look for things on multiple websites, not only the default search engine. You just click the bar and then Google (or whatever search engine is the default one), and you’ll get icons of the available search engines.
Flash support is disabled by default in the new version, but you can easily re-enable it from the Settings menu (you’ll find it under Web Content).
As you can see, lots of improvements to Dolphin Browser in the new version, made without altering the browser’s user experience. If you were a Dolphin Browser user until now, you’ll certainly enjoy the new version, and if not, now is as good a time as ever to give it a shot.
Do you use Dolphin Browser? What do you think of the new update?
1Password 4 for iPhone and iPad has gotten a major updated today, with big changes and additions to the browser, sharing, and search, among others. 1Browser, the in-app browser that allows users to take advantage of 1Password features like auto-fill, has added 1Passwords strong password generator for the iPad version. AgileBits says that this feature is also on its way to the iPhone eventually. Quick access to all of your logins has also been added to the browser, and you can now auto-submit after you auto-fill your login information if you wish. URLs on your clipboard will now be detected by 1Password, which will prompt you to open them in the browser.
There are also new sharing options. Users can now share from Vault Mode via email and SMS. Emails can either be sent encrypted or in plain text. The recipient will see an “Add to 1Password” link, allowing you to send them items like shared login information and secure notes. Anyone with a copy of 1Password for iOS can open this link so delete it when you’re finished, and exercise common sense security practices.
Search has also been improved with support for login items and expanding your search across multiple fields. There have also been improvements to Dropbox sync and translations, as well as the addition of Greek language support.
The update is available now, so 1Password 4 users, go grab it, and tell us what you think of the changes.
Several years ago, the Rockmelt web browser was born using the Chrominium source code. For this reason, the browser itself looks and behaves very similarly to Google Chrome. The idea was to develop a browser to serve as an alternative to Google Chrome by emphasizing social features that are not found in the competition.
In the next few months, Rockmelt will be discontinuing the web browser and launch Rockmelt for Web. This move is actually not a result of poor performance, but due to the fact that the Chrominium source code has a very consistent schedule for updates. As a result, it is costing far too much too keep up, which is absolutely essential to guarantee high and consistent performance.
Rockmelt for Web is a service that centers around content discovery and sharing. In fact, it could potentially be a popular migrating spot when Google Reader heads into retirement on July 1.
“Rockmelt.com is now a visual stream of the web; content from your favorite sites, your favorite people, and a dash of crazy stuff you never would have discovered,” say Rockmelt’s creators Tim Howes and Eric Vishria. It attempts to combine discovery tools like RSS feeds and services like StumbleUpon with social networks to provide a complete experience.
As of right now, Rockmelt for Web is invite-only. The only exception is users of the Rockmelt web browser and the iOS application have already received invites. You can however request an invite just by heading to the service directly.