Category: Chrome

Chrome for Android Improves Offline Functionality

Chrome for Android has a new update rolling out that brings a lot of improvements to the offline functionality of the browser.  The ability to view downloaded content offline in Chrome isn’t something new but this update goes a long way in making it easier to download that content and to get back to it later.  First, there is a new Download Link feature.  When you are viewing a page and run across a link, long press it and in the dialog box you will see an option to download the link.  This will download the content of the link which you can view while you are offline.

Next is a new download page later feature.  If you using Chrome and go offline, you will see the 8-bit dinosaur.  You will now also see a Download Page Later link.  Tap it and when you get back online, Chrome will automatically download the page for you so you can read it.

Chrome 58 for Android Released

Following the release of the desktop build and the Chrome OS build last week, Chrome 58 has made its way to Android.  The updated build is version 58.0.3029.83 and it has been released into the Google Play Store.  Keep in mind that it could take several days before the update hits your phone or tablet as the update is rolled out to users.

According to the release notes, there are three new features in this update to the browser:

  • View and manage in-progress downloads on the Downloads page
  • View and clear your browsing data more easily on the redesigned History page
  • Long-press a link to open it in a new Chrome tab (from Chrome Custom Tabs)

Along with these new features, there are several bug fixes and security improvements to the browser.

Completely Revamped Google Earth Released

After two years of behind the scenes work, the new Google Earth has been announced and released today.  The update brings vast improvements to the app for Chrome on the web and the Android app along with several new features.  The web-based version of the new Earth is now available while the Android app, version 9.0 for those keeping score at home, is rolling out now to the Play Store.  The app sports an all new icon along with the app improvements.

The banner new feature in this update is the new Voyager feature.  Teaming up with scientist, non-profit organizations and storytellers, this new feature allows you to have an interactive guided tour of a locale within Google Earth.  My personal favorite is The Hidden World of National Parks which takes you on a journey through these protected areas here in the United States and includes a combination of Street Views, videos and, of course, interactive maps.

Chrome for Android Update Brings Crash Fixes to Users

Chrome for Android has a small update rolling out for users of the browser.  The update remains in the Chrome 57 train, with the version number updated to 57.0.2987.126.  The update is a minor one and mainly focuses on addressing a crash issue that some users were experiencing.  If you have been experiencing stability issues with the browser on your Android device, this update hopefully will address those issues for you.

In addition, the Chrome team indicated in the release notes that some improvements around CSS and performance regressions are in this update with the crash fix.

Chrome 57 Brings Improvements in Background Tab Power Consumption

Google has announced that the latest version of Chrome for Windows, Mac and Linux has a new CPU consumption throttle that will limit the power consumption of background tabs in the browser.  This new throttling policy should shows improvements to users in the form of prolonged battery life, something that Chrome and other browsers are known to impact.

The update is a change from the current timer model that is used in Chrome today.  That timer limits the refreshing of background tabs to once per second.  In this new timer, it is based on CPU consumption.  Build 57 will delay timers to the limit average of CPU load of 1% of a core.  So think of it as an augmented and improved timer model over the once-per-second timer used today.

Google Chrome for Windows

Google Chrome for Windows

It should be noted that tabs playing audio or real-time connections (like WebRTC) won’t be impacted.

So what does this really mean for end users?  It should result in improved battery life.  With fewer timer updates happening in the background, you should see battery life improvement.  How much is going to be dependent on how many background tabs you have open at any given time.  Even with these improvements, it is recommended that you keep tabs to a minimum as you work throughout the day, especially if you are running your laptop on battery power.

Eventually the Chrome team wants to get tabs fully suspended in the background and leverage new APIs to bring them back to life when you need them.  That’s still a bit away but is the end goal for the team.

 

Google Pixel Chromebook is Dead? Not So Fast Says Google

Yesterday, from a wide range of sources, it was reported that Google has no plans of ever making a Pixel Chromebook follow up.  This lead to a lot of consternation as the Pixel lineup, while having a hefty price tag, were the premium Chrome OS experience.

Well, not so fast.  Google’s Rick Osterloh took to Twitter today and laid out that the Pixel Chromebook isn’t dead at all.  It is just that there is nothing to report on it.

Now for those who don’t know who Mr. Osterloh is with Google, he is certainly a voice of authority on this topic.  He is the Senior Vice President of Hardware at Google.  Yeah, he might know a thing or two.

Chrome Notification Panel Gets a Material Design Makeover

Slow and steadily, Material Design is making its way into the Chrome browser.  Right now there is a behind-the-scenes update that brings the more polished look to the Chrome notification panel.  If you aren’t familiar with this feature, it is under the bell icon in the taskbar in Chrome.  It gives you notifications from other Google services like Google+, Google Photos and the like.  Previously, this panel was pretty slow to load and frankly, looked a bit dated when you compare it to the beautiful Material Design look of other parts of the browser or even Google’s own websites.  If you have the latest version of Chrome browser, you will get this update and will know you have it when you see a couple of visual clues.

First, the color changing orb that shows up when notifications are loading is gone.  Now you a simple, clean progress bar at the top of the panel.  Second, you will see your notification in sub-divided areas.  So update for Google+ are under one section, Google Photos for another, and so on.

Gmail Won’t Support Chrome 53 or Earlier Starting February 8th

Google has announced that starting February 8, 2017, Chrome 53 and earlier will not be supported for Gmail.  Starting then, a banner will be displayed indicating that an update is recommended for a safer experience.  The current version of Chrome is build 56 for desktops.

The impact is most likely going to be felt by those who are still on Windows XP or Windows Vista.  Chrome 49 was the last supported version for these Operating Systems and Google, as Microsoft themselves have done, are no longer supporting them.  In Google’s announcement, users on XP and Vista are strongly encouraged to update to a new version of Windows.

Chrome for Android Update Brings New Downloads Tab

Google has announced the release of a new build of Chrome for Android.  Chrome 56 brings a lot of improvements and new features to the browser, most notably is a new download tab.  The new build is version 56.0.2924.87 for those keeping score at home and should be coming to your devices over the course of the next week.

The big new feature is a new downloads tab.  Now you can more easily find things that you have download within the browser with this new tab.  The aim is to allow you to find them and access them without having to exit the browser itself.  Along with this, you can now easily use email addresses, physical addresses and phone numbers within a web page by tapping them.  If, for example, you tap a phone number, it will open up your phone app so you can place that call.  Again, the idea is to make the user experience easier and faster.

Chrome for Desktop Rolling Out With Full HTML5 Support

The Chrome team has started rolling out a new major build of the browser for Windows, Mac and Linux.  Chrome build 56.0.2924.76 has a long list of security fixes and enhancements but also has an impressive list of new features along with it.  In all there are 21 specific issues addressed in the release notes, 7 of which were considered high priority.  As is the usual case, Google hasn’t released all the details of what was addressed.  They will do that after a majority of users have upgraded to the new build.

In this build, full HTML5 is supported which means the end of Adobe Flash plug-in for everyone.  You should get a prompt when you first open up the browser about Flash and the idea here is to make it a better browsing experience for everyone.  And safer.

Google Chrome Browser Update for Windows & Mac Released

If you are a Google Chrome user on your Windows PC or Mac, there is a small but important update that has been released.  The updated builds are 54.0.2840.99 for Windows and 54.0.2840.98 for Mac.  Note that there is no update for Linux yet.  According to the release notes from the Chrome team, there are additional changes to the browser for that platform and it will be updated tomorrow.  The update will come via an OTA update but if you want to force the issue, go to chrome://help in the browser and it will force the update to happen.  I’ve already done this for my Macbook so the update is readily available.

Read on for details on what has changed.

Chrome for Windows Gets a PGO Speed Boost

The Chromium team has rolled out an update to Chrome for Windows that should bring a big speed boost to the browser.  In build 53 for 32-bit and 54 for 64-bit, Chrome now takes advantage of Profile Guided Optimization, or PGO (pronounced Pogo) compiling to give big speed improvements.  In their blog post about the update, the team reports that new tabs open 14.8% faster while Page Loads speed up by 5.9%.  Not familiar with PGO?  It is a compiler optimization technique that is designed to optimize performance.  Specifically, Chrome looks at what functions are being used and optimizes those functions to gain the speed improvements.  Essentially what it does is move rarely used functions out of memory and frequently used ones into memory.