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Chrome For Android Gets Its Own Canary Channel ( 22

Google is bringing bleeding-edge Canary channel for Chrome to Android. Through Canary channel, the company introduces early versions of Chrome upgrades to the early adopter and developers, and seeks feedback. Prior to this, Canary channel was available for the desktop version of Chrome. Alex Mineer, APK Administrator & Bug Basher said, "Just like the Canary channel for other platforms, new versions are built from the most recent code available and often contain a variety of new features, enhancements, and bug fixes. These builds are shipped automatically with no manual testing, which means that the build can be unstable and may even stop working entirely for days at a time. However, the goal is for Canary to remain usable at all times, and the Chrome team prioritizes fixing major issues as quickly as possible."

Firefox Users Reach HTTPS Encryption Milestone ( 63

For the first time ever, secure HTTPS encryption was used for over half the pageloads served to Mozilla users, representing a big milestone for encryption. TechCrunch reports on the telemetry data tweeted by the Head of Let's Encrypt: Mozilla, which is one of the organizations backing Let's Encrypt, was reporting that 40% of page views were encrypted as of December 2015. So it's an impressively speedy rise...

The Let's Encrypt initiative, which exited beta back in April, is doing some of that work by providing sites with free digital certificates to help accelerate the switch to HTTPS. According to [co-founder Josh] Aas, Let's Encrypt added more than a million new active certificates in the past week -- which is also a significant step up. In the initiative's first six months (when still in beta) it only issued around 1.7 million certificates in all.

The "50% HTTPS" figure is just a one-day snapshot, and it's from "only a subset of Firefox users who are running Mozilla's telemetry browser...not default switched on for most Firefox users (only for users of pre-release Firefox builds)." But the biggest caveat is it's only counting Firefox users, which in July represented just 7.7% of web surfers (according to Statista), behind both Chrome (49.5%) and Safari (13.68%) -- but also ahead of Internet Explorer (5.4%) and Opera (5.99%).

Chrome 54 Arrives With YouTube Flash Embed Rewriting To HTML5 ( 76

Krystalo quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today launched Chrome 54 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This release is mainly focused on developers, but the improvements to how the browser handles YouTube embeds is also noteworthy. You can update to the latest version now using the browser's built-in silent updater, or download it directly from Chrome 54 rewrites YouTube Flash players to use the YouTube HTML5 embed style. YouTube ditched Flash for HTML5 by default in January 2015, but the old embeds still exist all over the web. Google says the change improves both performance and security for its desktop browser. The report adds that "Chrome also now provides support for the custom elements V1 spec," which allows "developers to create custom HTML tags as well as define their API and behavior in JavaScript." BroadcastChannel API will also be implemented "to allow one-to-many messaging between windows, tabs, iframes, web workers, and service workers." You can read more about Chrome 54 on Google's blog post.

PC Industry Is Now On a Two-Year Downslide ( 310

According to analyst firm Gartner, PC shipments have declined for eight consecutive quarters -- "the longest duration of decline in the history of the PC industry." The company found that worldwide PC shipments totaled 68.9 million units in the third quart of 2016, a 5.7 percent decline from the third quarter of 2015. The Verge reports: The firm cites poor back-to-school sales and lowered demand in emerging markets. But the larger issue, as it has been for quite some time, is more existential than that. "The PC is not a high priority device for the majority of consumers, so they do not feel the need to upgrade their PCs as often as they used to," writes Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa. "Some may never decide to upgrade to a PC again." The threat, of course, comes from smartphones, which have more aggressive upgrade cycles than PCs and have over time grown powerful enough to compete with desktop and laptop computers at performing less intensive tasks. Tablets too have become more capable, with Apple pushing its iPad Pro line as a viable laptop replacement. PC makers are feeling the pressure. HP, Dell, and Asus each had low single-digit growth, but Acer, Apple, and Lenovo all experienced declines, with Apple and Lenovo each suffering double-digit drops. Meanwhile, the rest of the PC market, which collectively ships more units per quarter than any of the big-name brands, is down more than 16 percent. Some good news is that 2-in-1 devices have experienced year-over-year growth. Kitigawa also notes: "While our PC shipment report does not include Chromebooks, our early indicator shows that Chromebooks exceeded PC shipment growth."

Google Chrome 55 May Use Less Memory ( 74

Slashdot reader justthinkit writes: Google Chrome is arguably the best browser and the biggest memory hog. Presently. But the Google engineers are hard at work, optimizing the next version of Chrome. Will this be an important, or just another incremental, upgrade?
They're specifically targeting the browser's JavaScript engine, V8, and they've already "analyzed and significantly reduced the memory footprint of several websites that were identified as representative..." (For example, on the mobile New York Times site they've reduced heap memory consumption by about 66%.) Chrome 55 is scheduled for release in December. Any Chrome fans looking forward to testing its performance?

A French Company is Suing Apple To Open the iPhone To Rival Browsing Engines ( 72

A French maker of open-source software said Friday it is suing Apple in an effort to get the company to make iOS more supportive of Web standards. Nexedi is suing Apple under French law in hopes it can force Apple to allow rival browsing engines onto the iPhone. From a report on Recode:Although Apple allows rival browser apps, such as Google's Chrome, on to the iPhone, the'y all have to use Apple's Web rendering engine. That means the ability to draw on the latest Web standards is is limited to whatever Apple decides to include. That means some newer technologies, like the WebM video standard and the WebRTC protocol for real-time communications, can't be made to work in an iOS browser even though they work in nearly all other browsers. "We hope [this lawsuit] will help Apple to sooner support the latest Web and HTML5 standards on its iOS platform -- the operating system used by all iPhones," Nexedi said in a blog post, which also explains the more granular details of how technology works and what needs to change, in their estimation.

Chrome and Firefox Flag The Pirate Bay As a 'Phishing' Site...Again ( 67

The Pirate Bay's download pages are being blocked by Chrome and Firefox. These pages have been flagged as "deceptive," by Google's safe browsing program. TorrentFreak reports that "millions" of Pirate Bay users are currently unable to access the torrent detail pages on the site without receiving a stark warning. The report adds: The homepage and various categories can be reached without problems, but when visitors navigate to a download page they are presented with an ominous red warning banner. According to Google the notorious torrent site is linked to a phishing effort, where malicious actors try to steal the personal information of visitors. It's likely that the security error is caused by a malicious third-party advertisement. The TPB team informs TorrentFreak that they are aware of the issue, which they hope will be resolved soon.

BadKernel Vulnerability Affects One In 16 Android Smartphones ( 58

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: A security bug in Google's V8 JavaScript engine is indirectly affecting around one in 16 Android devices, impacting smartphone models from all major vendors, such as LG, Samsung, Motorola, and Huawei. Despite this bug being public for more than a year, only in August 2016 have Chinese security researchers discovered that the V8 issue also affected a whole range of Android-related products where the older V8 engine versions had been deployed. Affected products included Google Chrome Mobile, Opera Mobile, apps that use the WebView component (Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, etc.) and apps that deploy the Tencent X5.SDK (a bunch of Chinese apps). It is estimated that around one in 16 Android devices is vulnerable to this issue, nicknamed BadKernel. The flaw leads to a RCE on Android devices, allowing attackers to take full control over one's smartphone. Despite BadKernel being discovered in August 2016, because all research was only published in Chinese, most E.U. and U.S. users have no clue they might be affected. One of the best ways to protect yourself, as noted in the report, is to keep your apps and operating system updated. You can view this list via Trustlook's website to see if your device is affected. There's also a dedicated BadKernel security scanner you can download from the Play Store to check for the vulnerability.

Chromification Continues: Firefox May Use Chrome's PDF and Flash Plugins ( 113

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla announced today Project Mortar, an initiative to explore the possibility of deploying alternative technologies in Firefox to replace its internal implementations. The project's first two goals are to test two Chrome plugins within the Firefox codebase. These are PDFium, the Chrome plugin for viewing PDF files, and Pepper Flash, Google's custom implementation of Adobe Flash. The decision comes as Mozilla is trying to cut down development costs, after Firefox took a nose dive in market share this year. "In order to enable stronger focus on advancing the Web and to reduce the complexity and long term maintenance cost of Firefox, and as part of our strategy to remove generic plugin support, we are launching Project Mortar," said Johnny Stenback, Senior Director Of Engineering at Mozilla Corporation. "Project Mortar seeks to reduce the time Mozilla spends on technologies that are required to provide a complete web browsing experience, but are not a core piece of the Web platform," Stenback adds. "We will be looking for opportunities to replace such technologies with other existing alternatives, including implementations by other browser vendors."

Google Is Planning a 'Pixel 3' Laptop Running 'Andromeda' OS For Release in Q3 2017 ( 56

Google plans to launch a laptop next year with Pixel branding which will run 'Andromeda' operating system, reports AndroidPolice, citing sources. Andromeda is a hybrid of Android and Chrome OS, the report adds. Pixel, Chrome OS and Android teams have been working on this project, dubbed Bison, for years, apparently. From the report: Bison is planned as an ultra-thin laptop with a 12.3" display, but Google also wants it to support a "tablet" mode. It's unclear to us if this means Bison will be a Lenovo Yoga-style convertible device, or a detachable like Microsoft's Surface Book, but I'm personally leaning on the former given how thin it is. Powering it will be either an Intel m3 or i5 Core processor with 32 or 128GB of storage and 8 or 16GB of RAM. This seems to suggest there will be two models. It will also feature a fingerprint scanner, two USB-C ports, a 3.5mm jack (!), a host of sensors, stylus support (a Wacom pen will be sold separately), stereo speakers, quad microphones, and a battery that will last around 10 hours. The keyboard will be backlit, and the glass trackpad will use haptic and force detection similar to the MacBook. Google plans to fit all of this in a form factor under 10mm in thickness, notably thinner than the aforementioned Apple ultraportable.The report, however, adds that it is likely that Google might revise the specifications by the time of its launch, which is slated to happen sometime in Q3 2017.

Google Play Starts Bringing Android Apps To Chromebooks ( 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.

SolidRun x86 Braswell MicroSoM Runs Linux and Full Windows 10, Destroys Raspberry Pi ( 205

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.

Google Chrome Beta For Android Now Lets You Play YouTube In the Background ( 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 and Firefox Block Pirate Bay Over 'Harmful Programs' ( 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 Reproduces Google's Battery Life Test To Show Edge Beats Chrome ( 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 49 Postponed One Week Due To Unexpected Bugs ( 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.

Microsoft Is Bringing WebVR To Microsoft Edge On Windows 10 ( 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.

Google Uses Surface Books To Show Off Chrome Battery Improvements ( 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 For Windows To Get Battery Performance Boost ( 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 Chrome Begins Warns Users About Insecure Pages ( 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.

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