Via Phoronix comes news that Ubuntu is revisiting replacing Firefox with Chromium as the default browser. Reasons include that Chromium is the basis of Ubuntu Touch and their new web apps platform, and using a single browser for all versions of Ubuntu would simplify maintenance. From the article: "Expressed shortcomings of switching to Google's Chromium open-source web-browser is that data migration from Firefox isn't too obvious, extensions don't migrate between browsers, Chromium isn't supported on all architectures (e.g. PowerPC), the browser doesn't work with the Orca screen reader and doesn't integrate well for accessibility reasons, there is no native PDF plug-in, and Chromium is said to have worse performance under memory pressure. There were also some concerns expressed about differences with WebApps in Chromium. ... It looks like the switch to Chromium will happen in the name of a better user experience for the desktop with Chrome/Chromium now arguably surpassing Firefox in its features and performance while pushing Chromium as the default leads to a more consistent experience across Ubuntu form factors from phones/tablets to the desktop." The Ubuntu community will have their input solicited as the next step. The Ubuntu Developer Summit session has notes and a full video of today's discussion.
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First time accepted submitter Stratus311 writes "An article from The Verge shows a video leaked from Microsoft that parodies Google's Chrome ad. From the article: 'Microsoft and Google have been locked in a war of words over a YouTube Windows Phone app, but in the midst of the arguments a new Scroogled ad has emerged. Designed to be an internal-only video, a copy has somehow managed to find its way onto the web right in the middle of Google's I/O developer conference.'" "Somehow" leaked.
Google's I/O annual conference is ramping up at San Francisco's Moscone Center. Last year, in the conference keynote, the company took its biggest-yet dive into hardware when it introduced the Nexus 7 tablet, Google Glass, and the ill-fated Nexus Q. The secret is out on Glass, of course: this year, there's a pavilion inside the conference center where I'm sure they'll be showing off applications for it. (Quite a few of the people in the endless lines here are wearing their own, too.) Anticipating the announcements at I/O is practically its own industry, but it's easy to guess that there will be announcements from all the major pots in which Google has its many thousands of (tapping) fingers. Android, search, Chrome, mapping, and all the other ways in which the behemoth of Mountain View is watching what you do. You can watch the keynote talk (talks, really) streamed online from the main conference link above, but this story will be updated with highlights of the announcements, as well with stories that readers contribute. Update: 05/15 16:22 GMT by T : Updates below. Update: 05/15 19:02 GMT by T :Update details: Notes (ongoing) added below on maps, gaming, the Play store, Google+, and more. And, notable, Larry Page is (at this writing) on stage, with an unannounced Q & A session.
recoiledsnake writes "The first real world stats for Chromebooks show that they're struggling to have any traction in the marketplace. In its first week of monitoring worldwide usage of Google's Chrome OS, NetMarketShare reported that the percentage of web traffic from Chromebooks was roughly 2/100 of 1 percent, a figure too small to earn a place on its reports. The first Chromebooks went on sale in June 2011, nearly two years ago, with Acer reportedly selling fewer than 5000 units in the first six months and Samsung selling even fewer. In the past three years, Chromebook sales have been worse than even three months worth of WindowsRT sales. Perhaps users are heeding Stallman's warning on Chromebooks. We previously discussed reports of Chromebook topping Amazon sales, selling to 2000 schools and wondered whether QuickOffice on ChromeOS can topple Microsoft Office." I find ChromeOS good in some contexts (any place that a browser and a thin layer of Linux is all you need), but the limitations are frustrating — especially on hardware that can run a conventional Linux as well as Google's specialized one. We'll watch for developments in the Google hardware world at next week's I/O conference.
alancronin writes with this excerpt from a PC World article: "Users of Android, Chrome OS, Linux, and iOS devices may not realize it, but FreeType open source software is used to render fonts on more than a billion such devices. Not only that, but the FreeType project this week got a significant update from none other than Adobe and Google. Specifically, Google and Adobe on Wednesday released into beta the Adobe CFF engine, an advanced Compact Font Format (CFF) rasterizer that 'paves the way for FreeType-based platforms to provide users with richer and more beautiful reading experiences,' as Google put it in an online announcement on the Google Open Source Blog. The new rasterizer is now included in FreeType version 2.4.12. Though it's currently off by default, the technology is 'vastly superior' to the old CFF engine and will replace it in the next FreeType release, the project says." The article features examples of how the new engine improves font rendering; for more explanation of the CFF, see this blog post from Adobe.
First time accepted submitter carlypage3 writes "Benefits claimants in the UK are being forced to use Microsoft's now obsolete Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 software. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) states that its online forms are not compatible with Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9 and 10, Safari, Google Chrome or Firefox. As if that wasn't unnerving enough, the Gov.UK website says that users cannot submit claims using Mac OS X or Linux operating systems, either." (Note: as we noted not long ago, it's not just the DWP that's stuck using IE6.)
An anonymous reader writes "Frédéric Wang, an engineer at the MathJax project, reports that the latest nightly build of Firefox now passes the MathML Acid2 test. Screenshots in his post show a comparison with the latest nightly Chrome Canary, and it's not pretty. He writes 'Google developers forked Webkit and decided to remove from Blink all the code (including MathML) on which they don't plan to work in the short term.'"
New submitter JoeKilner writes "The Turbulenz HTML5 games engine has been released as open source under the MIT license. The engine is a full 3D engine written in TypeScript and using WebGL. To see what the engine is capable off, check out this video of a full 3D FPS running in the browser using the Turbulenz engine and Quake 4 assets. You can see some of the games already developed with the engine at Turbulenz.com. (Note — to try the games without registering, hit the big blue 'Play as Guest' button.) Also, IE doesn't have WebGL support yet, so to play without a plugin try Chrome or FIrefox."
An anonymous reader writes "In its continuing march toward locking up deals with every major Android and Chrome device maker, Microsoft announced on Tuesday a patent-licensing agreement with Chinese manufacturer ZTE. This follows a similar deal last week with the parent company of Foxconn. Microsoft's Deputy General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez said, 'Much of the current litigation in the so called 'smartphone patent wars' could be avoided if companies were willing to recognize the value of others’ creations in a way that is fair. At Microsoft, experience has taught us that respect for intellectual property rights is a two-way street, and we have always been prepared to respect the rights of others just as we seek respect for our rights. This is why we have paid others more than $4 billion over the last decade to secure intellectual property rights for the products we provide our customers.'"
Pikoro writes with news that Foxconn's parent company has entered into an agreement to pay Microsoft royalties for every Android device they manufacture, joining a rather long list of companies licensing patents for Android/Linux from Microsoft. From the BBC: "Microsoft has secured a patent deal with the world's biggest consumer electronics manufacturer to receive fees for devices powered by Google's Android and Chrome operating systems. Hon Hai — the parent company of Foxconn — said the deal would help prevent its clients being caught up in an ongoing intellectual property dispute. Microsoft says that Google's code makes use of innovations it owns. Google alleges its rival's claims are based on 'bogus patents.' 'The patents at issue cover a range of functionality embodied in Android devices that are essential to the user experience, including: natural ways of interacting with devices by tabbing through various screens to find the information they need; surfing the web more quickly, and interacting with documents and e-books.'"
krygny sends this quote from The Economist: "The internet browser you are using to read this blog post could help a potential employer decide whether or not you would do well at a job. How might your choice of browser affect your job prospects? When choosing among job applicants, employers may be swayed by a range of factors, knowingly and unknowingly. ... Evolv, a company that monitors recruitment and workplace data, has suggested that there are better ways to identify the right candidate for job. ... Among other things, its analysis found that those applicants who have bothered to install new web browsers on their computers (such as Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome) perform better and stay in their posts for 15% longer, on average."
AmiMoJo writes "It looks like Mozilla are finally going to remove the much hated blink tag from the Gecko rendering engine that powers Firefox. Work to remove support for the tag, which was always non-standard and is not supported by the most popular HTML layout engines WebKit and Blink (Chrome, Safari, Opera, Android), is progressing and should show up in a future version of the browser." A comment attached to the discussion of this (not completed) move points out the odd possibility that Google's new Blink rendering engine may feature the blink tag via CSS animation, which would be "hilarious/awesome."
hypnosec writes "WebKit developers have already started discussing the removal of Chrome- and Chromium-specific code from the rendering engine in a bid to make the code easier to maintain. Just a couple of days back, Google announced it will go ahead with a WebKit fork to develop a new browser engine — Blink. According to Google, having multiple rendering engines — just like multiple browsers — will allow for innovation as well as contribute toward a healthy open-web ecosystem. The discussion was started by Geoffery Garen, an Apple WebKit developer. He said Google's departure is an 'opportunity to streamline' the code of WebKit, which would eventually make development 'easier and more coherent for everyone.' Garen expects that developers who will be working on WebKit in the future should help to clean up the code. However, Adam Barth and Eric Seidel — two Google WebKit developers — have already offered their help." Google plans on making the switch to Blink in the stable Chrome release in around 10 weeks. They've posted a half-hour video explaining how the transition will work.
An anonymous reader writes "Google on Wednesday made a huge announcement to fork WebKit and build a new rendering engine called Blink. Opera, which only recently decided to replace its own Presto rendering engine for WebKit, has confirmed with TNW that it will be following suit. 'When we announced the move away from Presto, we announced that we are going with the Chromium package, and the forking and name change have little practical influence on the Opera browsers. So yes, your understanding is correct,' an Opera spokesperson told TNW. This will affect both desktop and mobile versions of Opera the spokesperson further confirmed."
Carewolf writes "In a blog post titled Blink: A rendering engine for the Chromium project, Google has announced that Chromium (the open source backend for Chrome) will be switching to Blink, a new WebKit-based web rendering engine. Quoting: 'Chromium uses a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit-based browsers, and supporting multiple architectures over the years has led to increasing complexity for both the WebKit and Chromium projects. This has slowed down the collective pace of innovation... This was not an easy decision. We know that the introduction of a new rendering engine can have significant implications for the web. Nevertheless, we believe that having multiple rendering engines—similar to having multiple browsers—will spur innovation and over time improve the health of the entire open web ecosystem. ... In the short term, Blink will bring little change for web developers. The bulk of the initial work will focus on internal architectural improvements and a simplification of the codebase. For example, we anticipate that we’ll be able to remove 7 build systems and delete more than 7,000 files—comprising more than 4.5 million lines—right off the bat. Over the long term a healthier codebase leads to more stability and fewer bugs.'"
Billly Gates writes "With the new leaked videos and screenshots of Windows Blue released, IE 11 is also included. IE 10 just came out weeks ago for Windows 7 users and Microsoft is more determined than ever to prevent IE from becoming irrelevant as Firefox and Chrome scream past it by also including a faster release schedule. A few beta testers reported that IE 11 changed its user agent string from MSIE to IE with the 'like gecko' command included. Microsoft may be doing this to stop web developers stop feeding broken IE 6-8 code and refusing to serve HTML 5/CSS 3 whenever it detects MSIE in its user agent string. Unfortunately this will break many business apps that are tied to ancient and specific version of IE. Will this cause more hours of work for web developers? Or does IE10+ really act like Chrome or Firefox and this will finally end the hell of custom CSS tricks?"
First time accepted submitter Steve Patterson writes "Thankfully, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has announced that 'Android and Chrome will remain separate.' Rumors that the products would be combined emerged last week when leadership of Android and Chrome were consolidated under Google Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai. Schmidt stated the obvious, but if you are a developer and you took the bait and thought the rumors might be true, you already read enough of Google Chrome or Google Android documentation before Schmidt's clarification and confirmed that consolidating the two products would be, well, stupid."
An anonymous reader writes "A new trojan specifically for Macs has been discovered that installs an adware plugin. The malware attempts to monetize its attack by injecting ads into Chrome, Firefox, and Safari (the most popular browsers on Apple's desktop platform) in the hopes that users will generate money for its creators by viewing (and maybe even clicking) them. The threat, detected as "Trojan.Yontoo.1" by Russian security firm Doctor Web, is part of a wider scheme of adware for OS X that has "been increasing in number since the beginning of 2013," according to the company."
Freshly Exhumed writes with an "inconvenient truth" as reported at Internet News: "Google Chrome running Chrome OS was hailed as being a survivor in the Pwnium/Pwn2own event that hacked IE, Firefox and Chrome browsers on Windows. Apple's Safari running on Mac OS X was not hacked and neither (apparently) was Chrome on Chrome OS. Google disclosed [Monday] morning that Chrome on Chrome OS had in fact been exploited — albeit, unreliably. The same researcher that took Google's money last year for exploiting Chrome, known publicly only as 'PinkiePie' was awarded $40,000 for exploiting Chrome/Chrome OS via a Linux kernel bug, config file error and a video parsing flaw." Asks Freshly Exhumed: "So, was it really Google Chrome, or was Linux to blame?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Andy Rubin is stepping down as head of Google's Android division, according to the company. 'Having exceeded even the crazy ambitious goals we dreamed of for Android — and with a really strong leadership team in place — Andy's decided it's time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google,' Google CEO Larry Page wrote in a March 13 note on Google's official blog. 'Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps.' If Rubin had any other reasons for departing, the blog posting left them unexplained. Android has been activated on 750 million devices around the world, according to Google, on top of some 25 billion apps downloaded from the Google Play storefront. It remains to be seen whether 'start a new chapter at Google' is some sort of polite corporate euphemism for Rubin's eventual departure from the company, or if he really is taking over another project or division. Page suggested in his blog posting that Pichai 'will do a tremendous job doubling down on Android as we work to push the ecosystem forward,' which doesn't offer a lot about the operating system's future direction: Pichai does have direct control over three core platforms, raising the possibility that Google could try and exploit further crossovers between the three. But what form that will take is anyone's guess."