There’s something about Bing’s homepage that draws us to use their search– BUT not really. We wrote about Micrsoft’s search engine “Bing” a while back and thought it didn’t offer anything new and we still like using Google.
What Bing does have is aesthetics. The home page is so pleasing to the eyes with it’s high quality photos and breathtaking images that you just want to stay there. It is attention grabbing and that’s probably among their best strengths. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for search giant Google to catch on… Introducing, just went live a few days ago– Google’s new homepage with images and the ability to ‘personalize’ it with your own photo!
Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery they say. Indeed, in this case.
Previously only available as a “developer preview,” the new version of Chrome Frame has been updated to beta status. Chrome Frame’s underlying code has also been updated to match the Chrome 5 browser, which means Chrome Frame can now handle more HTML5 features like better audio and video playback, Canvas animations, geolocation, Web Workers, WebSocket connections and offline databases.
Chrome Frame now also integrates with IE more closely, meaning that the add-on now works with IE’s InPrivate browsing mode, and that clearing cookies and cache in IE will now also clear out the same elements in Chrome Frame.
If you’re stuck with IE 6 at work, but you want to see the latest and greatest the web has to offer, Chrome Frame makes for a decent solution. The only downside to Chrome Frame is that it will only be triggered on websites that have explicitly enabled it using a special meta tag. Of course, all of Google’s sites are on that short list, so you can at least experience some cool cutting-edge stuff like drag-and-drop in Gmail, geolocation in Google Maps, or real-time communication in Google Wave.
Despite the fact that Chrome Frame does not just take over IE, Google’s add-on is not without some degree of controversy. Back when Chrome Frame was first announced, Mozilla’s vice president of engineering, Mike Shaver, warned against the idea, arguing that the Chrome plug-in for IE muddles the user’s understanding of browser security, and in the end will create more confusion and little benefit.
So far those fears haven’t come to pass, but now that Chrome Frame is a beta release, it may begin to see wider use.
Shaver’s main argument — that simply telling users to switch browsers is far better strategy — is still undeniably the best solution. After all, if you’re savvy enough to know about and install Chrome Frame, you’re most likely savvy enough to just upgrade IE or switch to a better browser. But even the most recent version of Internet Explorer, version 8, doesn’t have the same level of capability as Chrome, and Chrome Frame gives IE users an opportunity to play around on the bleeding edge.
Also, there’s a subset of users who need IE 6 for legacy corporate intranets and applications, but also need to interact with today’s web. Given that several Google services — like Google Apps and Google Reader — no longer support IE 6, the day is fast approaching where Chrome Frame will be the only option for those still locked into IE 6 who want to use the newest web apps.
Mozilla has officially added WebM video support to the nightly builds of Firefox. WebM video support will also be a part of Firefox 4, the next version of the popular browser which will be released later this year.
WebM is the new media format launched by Google, Mozilla and Opera at the Google I/O developer conference in May. WebM is a format for audio and video playback in web browsers, media players and hardware devices that anyone can freely implement. It’s seen as the primary competitor to H.264, which is currently the dominant format for video on the web. H.264 is supported by Flash, the iPhone and iPad, and by most browsers, but some are reluctant to support it because of commercial licensing requirements.
Experimental WebM-enabled builds of Firefox were first made available shortly after Google announced it was releasing the VP8 video codec — one of the central pieces of technology for WebM — under an open, royalty-free license. But WebM support is now officially part of the Firefox trunk, meaning native support will almost certainly be included in Firefox 4 when it’s released later this year.
The new WebM support in Firefox comes on the heels of Google’s decision to change the license governing the format. When the WebM Project was first launched last month, the code was released under a custom Google license. Google’s custom license contained clauses that seem to make it incompatible with the GPL, one of the most widely used software licenses in the open source community.
To help spread the adoption of WebM, Google has changed the WebM licensing to use the BSD license, which is compatible with almost every other open source license. The BSD license means that Mozilla can now include WebM’s VP8 codec in Firefox. This also makes it much easier for Mozilla to argue that VP8 should become the officially recommended codec in the HTML5 specification. The HTML5 spec currently doesn’t recommend any single codec for video or audio.
While the Firefox nightlies support WebM, they don’t support all of its features. And of course, these are nightly builds, so expect some bugs and crashes if you’re testing them. Still, if you’d like to test the new codec, head over to the Mozilla FTP site and grab a WebM-enabled nightly build. Then go to YouTube and make sure you’ve opted in to the HTML5 experiment on the site. YouTube is currently offering this experimental site as a way to watch videos using native HTML5 playback in the browser. Everyone else still sees Flash videos.
Once you’re ready to go, just append &webm=1 to the end of your YouTube search URL to search for WebM videos. Here’s a link the WebM Coraline trailer shown above.
In our testing, WebM performed on par with H.264 on a MacBook Pro and on a Mac Pro running Windows 7, though it still heavily taxed our EeePC netbook. Of course, H.264 video fares no better on the netbook. If you were hoping for smooth, crisp HD HTML5 video on low-end machines, well, we’re here to destroy that hope. Maybe the performance will improve as the codec is further developed.
Still, WebM looks great and is significantly smoother than Flash, even on the netbook. While the Firefox nightly builds lack support for features like full-screen mode or the “buffered” attribute, the early release looks promising and the video quality is excellent.
If nightly builds aren’t your cup of tea, fear not — WebM support will be baked into the first Firefox 4 beta, due before the end of June.