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Category: Web-browsers

Using Google Chrome incognito mode

One of many neat features in the Google Chrome browser is the incognito mode, it enables you to surf the web without leaving a trace on the computer used. Normally when surfing the net you will leave cookies, web and search history etc on your computer, which other users of the system may see.

In some situations when sharing devices for example in a family, dorm etc, it’s not optimal to have the web history available for every user to access. This is where the incognito mode comes in handy.

It’s important to notice that the incognito mode is not the same as secure surfing, all sites and other information you access is still recorded with your ISP.

Activating the incognito mode in Google Chrome is done by opening a new Incognito window:

1. Click the Chrome menu in the upper right corner.

2. Select “New incognito window”.

New incognito window Google Chrome

3. A new window will open with the incognito icon in the upper left corner.

Incognito icon in Google Chrome

A quicker way of opening an incognito window is by using the keyboard shortcuts. In Windows/Linux or Chrome OS press CTRL+SHIFT¬+N or if you are on a MAC press ⌘-Shift-N.

Google Chrome incognito window

Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad

Google recently released Google Chrome for iOS, which means that the browser now can be used on the iPhone and iPad. The release is raising the stakes in the battle between Google, Apple and Microsoft for mobile users.

Surfing using Google Chrome for iOS

Regarding web-browsing for the iOS, Google Chrome doesn’t bring much new to the table. Chrome basically the same features as Safari for the iPad; voice-search is perhaps the most interesting feature. For the Ipad it’s a bit unnecessary but for the Iphone voice search is very convenient and worked well when we tested it.

The iOS version of Google Chrome is very similar to the desktop, the navigation is the same but it’s possible to browse between tabs by swiping across the screen. To the right there is a menu with a bunch of options and features. For example the incognito mode is available in the iOS-version, and also the ability to view web-pages as the desktop version of Chrome. Obviously Google Chrome for iOS has no support for flash-websites.

The whole idea with Google Chrome for the iOS is of course that you can sync bookmarks between different devices using Chrome, it’s also possible to continue a browsing session on your desktop, for example opening a tab previously viewed on your iPad or iPhone.

Apple have carefully plotted so that third party browsers in the iOS can’t benefit from the much faster Nitro java-script engine available in Safari, this means that Google Chrome is a bit slower than Safari. However it is barely noticeable and it actually feels snappier than for example Atomic web and other third party browsers.

A major downside with the Chrome browser is the way Google have chosen to structure the bookmarks, they are actually part of the browsing experience and not in the sidebar to the right as in the original desktop version. As a result it’s harder to find relevant bookmarks.

Google Chrome for iOS is mainly aimed at current users of the desktop version, and it really provides much better functionality than Safari. However few current desktop Safari users will probably migrate.

Yahoo Axis – A search browser alternative to Google

Yahoo used to be the coolest tech company around, now they are losing the search engine wars badly against Google and Bing, can they get back into the game with their latest product, Yahoo Axis?

Yahoo Axis home screen.

Yahoo Axis is available for desktops (PC and MAC), the Ipad and the Iphone, a search made on the desktop computer can be continued on an Iphone. All bookmarks and read later lists are also synced between the different devices. Yahoo Axis is lacking apps for Android and Windows Phone, which hopefully will be brought to the table shortly.

On the desktop Yahoo Axis is downloaded as an extension to an already existing browser, such as Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer 9. When Axis was released there a security issue with the Chrome extension, this has since then been fixed by Yahoo. Some blogs reported that Internet Explorer 9 and other browsers were slowed down when surfing the web, it was noticeable in IE 9 but not any of the other browsers, even-though the extension itself sometimes took a while to load it didn’t affect the performance of the browser. The general behavior of the extension in Google Chrome was also a bit awkward, sometimes it opened, sometimes it didn’t.

The Ipad/Iphone apps is really where this product comes to real usage, the interface in Yahoo Axis is perfect for cell phones and tablets. For example Axis shows more relevant info about a website before loading it, making it much easier to use on the Iphone than Safari, which relies on Google who basically have the same layout as on the desktop.
The sync between devices works well, for example it is simple to research something on the desktop and then continue on a mobile device on the go. Yahoo Axis has support for Google and Facebook-accounts, so a Yahoo account is not needed just to use this product.
Yahoo Axis has a home-screen with a list of bookmarks and read-it later items. Adding bookmarks was no problem but adding sites to the read-later list was sometimes a struggle, for example we I added an article in Wired to read-it later, but it didn’t show up.

When searching long tail keywords Yahoo Axis is not that powerful as Google, it simply doesn’t find the in-depth stuff that Google do, and even if it does it’s still hard to tell from the results which hits are good and which aren’t. Searches in other languages than English returns mixed results, it’s not uncommon for Yahoo Axis to mix different languages in its results (for example Norwegian and Spanish). The search engine used as with all Yahoo products is Microsoft Bing.

Axis handles the standard searches such as text and images just fine, but it lacks news and video search making it difficult to use as a sole search engine, Yahoo says that they will add additional options over time.

Yahoo Axis is a good concept, and has the perfect timing, it is however too bad that the browser extensions for browsers need some polishing. As Google is getting more comfortable in their total ownage of the search market, and seem to be focusing on Android and driver-less cars, the field is open again for innovation products, such as Yahoo Axis.

Firefox 10 arrives with new features for developers

Firefox 10 is here, the latest update from Mozilla of the popular open-sourced web-browser.

Even-though Google Chrome is increasing in usage at the expense of Firefox, Mozilla is clinging on with a steady stream of new features in to Firefox.

The updates in Firefox 10 is mainly geared towards developers and web designers with improved CSS editing functionality. For example it’s possible to change margins, fonts, colors and other layout options of a website using the CSS-editor, Firefox will instantly display the changes (locally of course).

Naturally this is great if you are a web-designer or developer and doesn’t want to go through all the hassle with making minor adjustments to a layout by uploading and changing style-sheets in a testing environment.

Another feature in Firefox 10 is the Mozilla full-screen API with 3D-capability (Web GL), allowing developers to create full-screen applications and games. Web GL is a standard for displaying 3D-applications using hardware acceleration without any third party extensions, which is another step in making web apps do more than word processing and spreadsheets.

For users not into web-development Mozilla have updated the add-on capabilities, now the browser checks every 24 hours for updates to add-ons, also the overall add-on compatibility is improved.

Below is a neat overview of the development tools in Firefox 10:

Firefox 3.6 Beta: Latest browser from Mozilla

Mozilla recently announced the release of Firefox 3.6 Beta 1. Packed with new features such as Personas (different visual themes), alert of out of date plug-ins, support for the WOFF (Web Open Font Format) font format, full screen video, faster JavaScript responsiveness and improved browser responsiveness.

Firefox 3.6 Beta 1 Logo

It is a bit surprising that visual themes (or Personas as Mozilla likes to call them) have not been implemented widely in web-browsers until now. Using Personas is easy, go to the website and browse the gallery. Then select “Wear this” and Firefox 3.6 Beta is updated without any restart required. Most of the different personas look very good making Firefox integrate better with the nicely looking Windows Vista and 7 user interface. Until now I always thought that Firefox had a dated look but now it appears that Mozilla have solved the problem.  Of course visual themes is not what makes a good web-browser but one have to recognize that there are probably many users out there who wants this.

A lot of users of Mozilla Firefox have been using old and unpatched plug-ins causing various security concerns and browser instability, Firefox now have the Mozilla Plug-in Check integrated in the browser. When the users visits a page trying to load an out-of date plug-in an alert will pop-up. It can of course always be discussed if alerts are the right way to handle update issues, for example Microsoft have moved more towards providing automatic updates without any user interaction.

Supposedly Firefox 3.6 Beta is faster and handles JavaScript more swiftly than previous versions. Of course it is something that it is impossible to measure since the performance enhancements will not be that noticeable for average users. However there is nothing wrong with the browser’s responsiveness. The start-up time has clearly been improved and using JavaScript based applications does seem faster.

Full screen video support in Firefox 3.6 has been improved, however the full screen features implemented only works when using HTML 5. This means that most sites will not benefit from the new video feature in Firefox, since the video capabilities in HTML 5 is not used that widely.  Another new feature in Firefox 3.6 is improved support for Windows 7, when hovering over Firefox’s taskbar entry in the different tab that you have open will show up.

Overall Firefox 3.6 Beta 1 contains a bunch of welcome updated, where Personas and plug-in alerts is the most welcome. However Firefox 3.6 is still a minor update compared to previous versions.

Google Chrome – Shiny and new

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks you will have heard of Google’s new web-browser, Chrome.  It might even be the most hyped web-browser release ever, but does it live up to the hype?  You are about to find out.

The Google Chrome interface seems sleek and fast, the exact opposite of Internet Explorer 7. Chrome only has 6 buttons; compare that to the myriad of buttons in IE7 and Firefox (although the Google toolbar is a culprit in adding buttons).  Chrome is easy to navigate even if this was your first encounter with a web-browser you will know your way around.

There are some smart enhancements in the interface compared to the competition. For example Google Chrome will display the websites you have visited frequently as a start page. Another neat thing is that the adress bar also searches, while you type it even gives suggestions.

However, if you like most users migrate from other browsers the most annoying difference is the placement of the different page-tabs.  In every other web-browser (Opera, IE, Firefox) tabs are placed below the adress field, in Google Chrome they are above the adress field.

Google Chrome is said to be faster than the competition. In regular web-browsing it is probably close to Firefox, but it is hard to measure and depends on a number of factors (such as computer speed, web-server load, ISP and so on). Google has developed a new java-script engine for the Chrome browser, named V8. This gives a boost when using java-script or AJAX based web applications. Since the industry is moving into cloud computing the extra speed boost is welcome, and it will be even more needed in the future.

When using Firefox or Internet Explorer all web-pages are displayed within the same process. In Google Chrome each tab is its own process. This increase the stability of the web-pages you are visiting.  Obviously it is not a big deal if your session of Yahoo Finance or something suddenly crashes, but imagine having a presentation in Google Docs crash or an important data transfer.  Multiple processes eat more memory, but with a fairly recent computer you will probably be fine.

Google Chrome comes with Google Gears, which is an API for developers. Among other things Google Gears can provide offline access to data and it also helps syncing web-applications with your desktop. This isn’t a huge deal for users right now, but it might be interesting in the future.

Privacy is a main-concern when browsing the web, so Google created the Incognito mode. It is reached by pressing CTRL+Shift+N or clicking the new page icon selecting “New Incognito Window”. It is important not to confuse the Incognito mode with services that prevents websites from logging your information. What actually happens when you browse incognito is that Chrome does not save the websites you’ve visited or the files you have downloaded.

Chrome isn’t exactly feature rich compared to Firefox or Internet Explorer.  There is no way to protect your saved passwords with a master password (as in Firefox), it is impossible to disable scripting or JAVA and there are few add-ons.

It is tough to see what Google Chrome actually brings to the table for users right now. However as a future application platform Chrome is interesting, and from a technology preview even more so.  I can’t give any compelling reason to switch from Firefox or IE to Chrome, but if you are interested in where the web will be going in the next couple of years you should take a look at Chrome.

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