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Android

Google Play Starts Bringing Android Apps To Chromebooks (venturebeat.com) 14

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: As promised, Google has finally brought the Google Play store to Chrome OS. Android apps, Android games, and media content from the store are all now finally available on Chromebooks running the latest stable build. But that still doesn't mean all Chromebook owners can use the store. This continues to be a gradual rollout -- even on the stable channel, Google is limiting the launch in multiple ways. "A beta release of the Play store is available to users now on the Acer R11 and Asus Flip (and coming soon to Pixel 2015) and can be enabled from the Settings page," a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. "The team is hard at work making the experience great for users before making the Play Store available by default on these Chromebooks." That's right -- even though we're still talking about just three devices, the Play store is disabled by default. Once you've updated to version 53.0.2785.129 (make sure to switch back to the stable channel if you aren't already on it), you'll have to enable the Play Store in Chrome Settings.
Hardware

SolidRun x86 Braswell MicroSoM Runs Linux and Full Windows 10, Destroys Raspberry Pi (betanews.com) 199

BetaNews has a report today about a company called SolidRun, which has announced an Intel Braswell-based MicroSoM. Unlike the ARM-powered Raspberry Pi, this is x86 compatible, meaning it can run full Windows 10. Plus, if you install a Linux distro, there will be far more packages available, such as Google Chrome, which is not available for Pi. Heck, it can probably serve as a secondary desktop, Brian with the site writes. From the report: At 53mm by 40mm, these new MicroSoMs provide unheard of design flexibility while also eliminating the headache of having to design complicated power-delivery subsystems thanks to its single power input rail design. SolidRun's Braswell MicroSoM also offers flexibility in RAM options, ranging from 1GB to 8GB configurations, and offers on-board support of eMMC storage up to 128GB. Its robust design and unsurpassed HD Edge surveillance, event detection, and statistical data-extraction capabilities makes it the platform of choice for mission-critical applications requiring guaranteed reliability," says Solidrun.It starts at $117, the website has more details on specifications.
Chrome

Google Chrome Beta For Android Now Lets You Play YouTube In the Background (techtimes.com) 51

The recently released version of Chrome on Android -- v54 (albeit in beta) -- finally brings a feature that users have been requesting for years: it lets them play YouTube songs in the background. Much like some of you, there are many out there who prefer listening to songs on YouTube instead of getting a subscription or otherwise downloading a music-streaming service. From a TechTimes report: With version 54, Google introduced a handful of updates to Chrome Beta. The new version introduces a handful of features that include background video and playback and a redesigned new tab page, among others. Among the features that are packed in the said beta version, background video playback is perhaps the most significant. In older iterations of Chrome, including version 53, videos will get paused once a new app is opened or after switching to the home screen. In version 54 beta, the videos will still get paused automatically but Android users are provided with an option to resume them via a media notification. Audio from the video will continuously be heard while using other apps.
Chrome

Chrome and Firefox Block Pirate Bay Over 'Harmful Programs' (torrentfreak.com) 86

An anonymous reader shares a TorrentFreak report: Chrome and Firefox are actively blocking direct access to the The Pirate Bay's download pages. According to Google's Safe Browsing diagnostics service TPB contains "harmful programs," most likely triggered by malicious advertisements running on the site. Comodo DNS also showed a "hacking" warning but this disappeared after a few hours.
Microsoft

Microsoft Reproduces Google's Battery Life Test To Show Edge Beats Chrome (venturebeat.com) 132

Earlier this year, Microsoft said that its Edge browser was more power efficient than Google's Chrome, a claim that Google refuted with its own findings. But the debate isn't over. An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft is at it again -- touting Edge as the most battery-efficient browser on Windows 10. The company has rerun its battery tests from the previous quarter using the latest versions of the major browsers, open-sourced its lab test on GitHub, and published the full methodology. But this time, Microsoft says it also replicated one of Google's tests to show that Edge lasts longer than Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
Firefox

Firefox 49 Postponed One Week Due To Unexpected Bugs (softpedia.com) 208

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Softpedia: Mozilla has announced this week that it is delaying the release of Firefox 49 for one week to address two unexpected bugs. Firefox 49, which was set for release on Tuesday, September 13, will now launch the following Tuesday, on September 20... Firefox 49 is an important release in Mozilla's grand scheme of things when it comes to Firefox. This is the version when Mozilla will finish multi-process support rollout (a.k.a. e10s, or Electrolysis), and the version when Firefox launches the new WebExtensions API that replaces the old Add-ons API, making Firefox compatible with Chromium extensions.
Firefox's release manager explained the delays as "two blocking issues and the need for a bit more time to evaluate the results of their fixes/backouts" -- one of which apparently involves opening Giphy GIFS on Twitter.
Software

Microsoft Is Bringing WebVR To Microsoft Edge On Windows 10 (mspoweruser.com) 30

An anonymous reader quotes a report from MSPoweruser: Microsoft today announced that the company is bringing support for WebVR to Microsoft Edge on Windows 10. With WebVR, users can experience Virtual Reality content from their web browser on a virtual reality headset such as the Oculus Rift. WebVR support on Microsoft Edge may also be useful for the Windows Holographic Shell on Windows 10, which is expected to arrive sometime later this year. For those unfamiliar, Microsoft will be allowing virtual reality headset owners to use Windows Holographic on their Windows 10 PC -- therefore, Microsoft Edge supporting WebVR can turn out to be very useful. WebVR is already supported in browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox, but it'll be coming to Microsoft Edge in the near-future. At the moment, Microsoft isn't sharing many details about WebVR on Microsoft Edge. While there isn't any official info on when the company plans to release this feature, we suspect it'll be coming with Windows 10 Redstone 2 which is expected to arrive in early 2017.
Chrome

Google Uses Surface Books To Show Off Chrome Battery Improvements (windowscentral.com) 37

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Windows Central: Google has posted a new video showing how much it has improved battery life while using Chrome on Windows. It demonstrated those changes in a video that featured the web browser on Microsoft's Surface Book notebooks. The video test was based on running a Vimeo video on Chrome 46, which was released in 2015, and the same video running on Chrome 53, which was released last week. The Surface Book with Chrome 46 ran out of battery power after 8 hours and 27 minutes, while the same notebook running Chrome 53 shut down in 10 hours and 39 minutes, or over 2 hours later. Chrome 53 also features Material Design, a user interface that "makes more liberal use of grid-based layouts, responsive animations and transitions, padding, and depth effects such as lighting and shadows." You can force the update to Chrome 53 by navigating to the about section of Chrome.
Chrome

Chrome For Windows To Get Battery Performance Boost (zdnet.com) 34

Earlier this year, Microsoft claimed that its Edge browser was much lighter on battery than Chrome. Google is now attempting to address that. It has announced that Chrome 53 will contain numerous CPU and GPU power consumption enhancements for video playback, along with other big performance and power improvements. ZDNet adds: Google hasn't as yet published any test results to back up these claims, and I'm not expecting that Chrome will have closed the gap with Edge in one leap, but it's good that Google is addressing these issues. Along with battery life improvements, Google has made what it calls "material design" changes to Chrome, in the form of tweaking the user interface.
Google

Google Chrome Begins Warns Users About Insecure Pages (certsimple.com) 86

An anonymous reader shares an article on CertSimple, a firm that helps companies prove their identity on their websites: Today Chrome's stable channel was updated with a new HTTPS UI. The changes in these versions of Chrome (Chrome 53 for Windows, Mac users got them in Chrome 52) complete 'transition 1' in Google's HTTPS plans, first announced in December 2014: T1: Non-secure origins marked as Dubious. In other words: Chrome now explicitly tells users non-HTTPS sites aren't private. If a Chrome user visits a site that isn't private -- for example, there's no HTTPS, broken HTTPS, or HTTPS only on 'checkout' pages -- Chrome now displays a mid-grey colored info box.
Chrome

Google Integrates Cast Into Chrome, No Extension Required (venturebeat.com) 43

An anonymous reader writes from a report via VentureBeat: On Monday, Google announced Google Cast is now built right into Chrome, allowing anyone using the company's browser to cast content to supported devices without having to install or configure anything. The Google Cast extension for Chrome, which launched in July 2013, is no longer required for casting. The report adds: "Here's how it works. When you browse websites that are integrated with Cast, Chrome will now show you a Cast icon as long as you're on the same network as a Cast device. With a couple of clicks, you can view the website content on your TV, listen to music on your speakers, and so on. In fact, Google today also integrated Hangouts with Google Cast: Signed-in users on Chrome 52 or higher can now use the 'Cast...' menu item from Chrome to share the contents of a browser tab or their entire desktop into a Hangout." The support document details all the ways you you can use Google Cast with Chrome.
Oracle

Oracle Is Funding a New Anti-Google Group (fortune.com) 156

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Fortune: Oracle says it is funding a new non-profit called "Campaign for Accountability," which consists of a campaign called "The Google Transparency Project" that claims to expose criminal behavior carried out by Google. "Oracle is absolutely a contributor (one of many) to the Transparency Project. This is important information for the public to know. It is 100 percent public records and accurate," said Ken Glueck, Senior Vice President of Oracle. Fortune reports: "Oracle's hidden hand is not a huge surprise since the company has a history of sneaky PR tactics, and is still embroiled in a bitter intellectual property lawsuit with Google." One would think Microsoft may be another contributor, but the company said it is not. Daniel Stevens, the deputy director of the CfA, declined to name the group's other donors, or to explain why it does not disclose its funders. Why does this matter? "When wealthy companies or individuals pose as a grass-roots group like the so-called 'campaign for accountability' project, [it] can confuse news and public relations, and foster public cynicism," writes Jeff John Roberts via Fortune.
Chrome

Google Will Kill Chrome Apps For Windows, Mac, and Linux In Early 2018 (venturebeat.com) 102

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today announced plans to kill off Chrome apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux in early 2018. Chrome extensions and themes will not be affected, while Chrome apps will continue to live on in Chrome OS. Here's the deprecation timeline:

Late 2016: Newly published Chrome apps will not be available to Windows, Mac, and Linux users (when developers submit apps to the Chrome Web Store, they will only show up for Chrome OS). Existing Chrome apps will remain available as they are today and developers can continue to update them.
Second half of 2017: The Chrome Web Store will no longer show Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Early 2018: Chrome apps will not load on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
There appears to be two main reasons why Google is killing Chrome apps off now. First, as Google explains in a blog post: "For a while there were certain experiences the web couldn't provide, such as working offline, sending notifications, and connecting to hardware. We launched Chrome apps three years ago to bridge this gap. Since then, we've worked with the web standards community to enable an increasing number of these use cases on the web. Developers can use powerful new APIs such as service worker and web push to build robust Progressive Web Apps that work across multiple browsers." Secondly, Chrome apps aren't very popular: "Today, approximately 1 percent of users on Windows, Mac and Linux actively use Chrome packaged apps, and most hosted apps are already implemented as regular web apps. Chrome on Windows, Mac, and Linux will therefore be removing support for packaged and hosted apps over the next two years."
Chrome

Google Restores Backspace Functionality To Chrome With an Add-on (betanews.com) 141

In May, Google upset many users when it announced it was going to stop the backspace button from also functioning as the back button. If you're among the ones who felt let down by company's decision, there is something you can do about it now. Alan Buckingham, writing for BetaNews: If you don't want to go to the effort of moving your mouse pointer to the back arrow at the left of the address bar to go back to the previous site, you can now install the new Go Back With Backspace add-on. The official description reads, "Go back with the backspace button! This extension re-enables the backspace key as a back navigation button -- except if you're writing text". The reason given for all of this, according to Google, is "many people lost their progress while working online by accidentally pressing backspace and leaving a page -- so we removed the feature from Chrome, and created this extension for those who prefer the old behavior".
Microsoft

Microsoft Wants To Pay You To Use Its Windows 10 Browser Edge (theguardian.com) 256

An anonymous reader shares a report by The Guardian: Microsoft has a new browser. It launched with Windows 10 and it's called Edge. The company says it's faster, more battery efficient and all-round better than Chrome or Firefox. You can even draw on websites with a stylus. Trouble is, not very many people are using it. So now Microsoft's trying to bribe you to switch. The newly rebranded Microsoft Rewards -- formerly Bing Rewards, which paid people for using Bing as their search engine (another product Microsoft says is better than a Google product but that very few people actually use) -- will now pay you for using Edge, shopping at the Microsoft store, or using Bing. Users of Edge who sign up to Microsoft Rewards, which is currently US-only, are then awarded points simply for using the browser. Microsoft actively monitors whether you're using Edge for up to 30 hours a month. It tracks mouse movements and other signs that you're not trying to game the system, and you must also have Bing set as your default search engine. Points can then be traded in for vouchers or credit for places such as Starbucks, Skype, Amazon and ad-free Outlook.com -- remember, if you're not paying for something, you are the product.
Security

People Ignore Software Security Warnings Up To 90% of the Time, Says Study (phys.org) 125

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A new study from BYU, in collaboration with Google Chrome engineers, finds the status quo of warning messages appearing haphazardly -- while people are typing, watching a video, uploading files, etc. -- results in up to 90 percent of users disregarding them. Researchers found these times are less effective because of "dual task interference," a neural limitation where even simple tasks can't be simultaneously performed without significant performance loss. Or, in human terms, multitasking. For example, 74 percent of people in the study ignored security messages that popped up while they were on the way to close a web page window. Another 79 percent ignored the messages if they were watching a video. And a whopping 87 percent disregarded the messages while they were transferring information, in this case, a confirmation code. For example, Jenkins, Vance and BYU colleagues Bonnie Anderson and Brock Kirwan found that people pay the most attention to security messages when they pop up in lower dual task times such as: after watching a video, waiting for a page to load, or after interacting with a website. For part of the study, researchers had participants complete computer tasks while an fMRI scanner measured their brain activity. The experiment showed neural activity was substantially reduced when security messages interrupted a task, as compared to when a user responded to the security message itself. The BYU researchers used the functional MRI data as they collaborated with a team of Google Chrome security engineers to identify better times to display security messages during the browsing experience.
Google

Oracle Says Trial Wasn't Fair, It Should Have Known About Google Play For Chrome (arstechnica.com) 182

Two and a half months after a federal jury concluded that Google's Android operating system does not infringe Oracle-owned copyrights because its re-implementation of 37 Java APIs is protected by "fair use," Oracle's attorney says her client missed a crucial detail in the trial, adding that this detail could change everything. ArsTechnica reports: Oracle lawyers argued in federal court today that their copyright trial loss against Google should be thrown out because they were denied key evidence in discovery. Oracle attorney Annette Hurst said that the launch of Google Play on Chrome OS, which happened in the middle of the trial, showed that Google was trying to break into the market for Java SE on desktops. In her view, that move dramatically changes the amount of market harm that Oracle experienced, and the evidence should have been shared with the jury. "This is a game-changer," Hurst told U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who oversaw the trial. "The whole foundation for their case is gone. [Android] isn't 'transformative'; it's on desktops and laptops." Google argued that its use of Java APIs was "fair use" for several reasons, including the fact that Android, which was built for smartphones, didn't compete with Java SE, which is used on desktops and laptops. During the post-trial hearing today, Hurst argued that it's clear that Google intends to use Android smartphones as a "leading wedge" and has plans to "suck in the entire Java SE market. [...] Android is doing this using Java code," said Hurst. "That's outrageous, under copyright law. This verdict is tainted by the jury's inability to hear this evidence. Viewing the smartphone in isolation is a Google-gerrymandered story."In the meanwhile, Google attorney said Oracle was aware of Google's intentions of porting Android to laptops and desktops, and that if Oracle wanted to use this piece of information, it could have.
Google

Google Working On New 'Fuchsia' OS (digitaltrends.com) 146

An anonymous reader writes: Google is working on a new operating system dubbed Fuchsia OS for smartphones, computers, and various other devices. The new operating system was spotted in the Git repository, where the description reads: "Pick + Purple == Fuchsia (a new Operating System). Hacker News reports that Travis Geiselbrech, who worked on NewOS, BeOS, Danger, Palm's webOS and iOS, and Brian Swetland, who also worked on BeOS and Android will be involved in this project. Magenta and LK kernel will be powering the operating system. "LK is a kernel designed for small systems typically used in imbedded applications," reads the repository. "On the other hand, Magenta targets modern phones and modern personal computers with fast processors, non-trivial amounts of RAM with arbitrary peripherals doing open-ended computation." It's too early to tell exactly what this OS is meant for. Whether it's for an Android and Chrome OS merger or something completely new, it's exciting nonetheless.
Chrome

Google: Chrome 53 Will 'De-Emphasize Flash In Favor of HTML5' Next Month (venturebeat.com) 68

Google announced in a blog post today that Chrome will officially start to "de-emphasize Flash in favor of HTML5." VentureBeat reports: "In September 2016, Chrome will block Flash content that loads behind the scenes, which the company estimates accounts for more than 90 percent of the Flash on the web. In December, Chrome will make HTML5 the default experience for central content, such as games and videos, except on sites that only support Flash." Google detailed next month's plan (design doc), when Chrome 53 will be released: "In September 2015, we made 'Detect and run important plugin content' the default plugin setting in Chrome, automatically pausing any cross-origin plugin content smaller than 400px in width or 300px in height. This behavior has an exception for any plugin content that is 5x5 or smaller or is an undefined size, because there was no canonical way of detecting viewability until Intersection Observer was standardized and implemented. We would now like to remove this exception and instead not load tiny, cross-origin content. If the user has their plugin setting set to the default of 'Detect and run important plugin content,' the browser will not instantiate cross-origin plugin content that is roughly 5x5 or smaller or has an undefined size. An icon will be displayed in the URL bar indicating that plugin content is not running, allowing the user to reload the page with plugin content running or open settings to add a site-wide exception. Other choices of the plugin content setting are unaffected by this launch."

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