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Posts tagged with "browser"

ClickToPlugin Brings AirPlay Support to Safari for Mac

ClickToFlash, the popular plugin to block Adobe Flash content in Safari and make videos play in higher quality through HTML5, had to go through a series of changes after Apple released Safari 5.1, which dropped support for WebKit Plugins. Those of you who use ClickToFlash on a daily basis may have noticed that ClickToFlash for Safari 5.1 recently got a new home, and it’s been developed by Marc Hoyois as a Safari extension called ClickToPlugin.

Marc Hoyois actually offers both ClickToPlugin and ClickToFlash rewritten as a Safari extension – the former is simply a broader version of ClickToFlash that doesn’t stop at Flash content, but prevents Safari from launching a variety of plugins, including Facebook Video Calling and Java. The same functionality of ClickToFlash is still there, only it’s been split in two versions depending on what you need (if you only want to block Flash, get the new ClickToFlash extension) with a new settings page. As usual, the extension replaces content with a placeholder that doesn’t load automatically and, when possible, allows for a direct plugin-to-HTML5 conversion that, in the case of YouTube, will allow you to load a video’s source in higher quality. ClickToFlash/ClickToPlugin comes with several preferences to tweak and support for many video websites – you should check out the complete list of features and screenshots of the settings at the developer’s website.

An update released earlier this week for the ClickToPlugin/ClickToFlash extensions adds a feature Mac users have been requesting since the introduction of iOS 4.2 last year – AirPlay support in Safari for Mac. While AirPlay had been enabled first in Apple’s iOS apps, then the Mobile Safari browser and third-party apps, Mac users were only given AirPlay support for audio in iTunes, but nothing related to video streaming on OS X. A number of hacks and utilities surfaced to send Mac video to an Apple TV or AirPlay receiver and even turn a Mac into an AirPlay-compatible device, but there’s never been a way to easily select a video in the browser, and instantly beam it to an Apple TV with the click of a button.

The latest ClickToPlugin adds exactly this feature in combination with its built-in HTML5 video recognition and a second utility available on Marc Hoyois’ website called Media Center. Version 2.5.2 of Hoyois’ extension adds a new “AirPlay” option in the HTML5 media player (the one you get if you, say, decide to replace Flash content on YouTube with HTML5 video), enabling you to send video to an Apple TV on your network. The Apple TV’s hostname or IP address needs to be specified in ClickToPlugin’s settings, but it’s set by default to apple-tv.local, which is what Apple gives you with an Apple TV out of the box. The default hostname worked for me and found my Apple TV (connected with WiFi first, then via Ethernet to my AirPort Extreme).

Once ClickToPlugin is set to fetch HTML5 video instead of Flash (you can optionally choose a default resolution – I picked 720p) and the Apple TV is configured to accept incoming AirPlay streams (the extension has support for AirPlay passwords, too), you’ll be able to try AirPlay in Safari by opening a YouTube video, like this one, and choose AirPlay from the source selector on the top left. If your settings are correct, the video should start playing on your Apple TV.

Media Center works in conjunction with the latest ClickToPlugin in that it adds a contextual menu item to links and HTML5 media to download a video file, open it in QuickTime, or send it to an Apple TV via AirPlay. Some of these functionalities are already provided by ClickToPlugin, but I like Media Center’s AirPlay action on right-click and, more importantly, the toolbar button that allows you to stop a a video from being streamed to the Apple TV.

In my tests, ClickToPlugin and Media Center have been fairly reliable, streaming 720p content from YouTube to my Apple TV, although I’ve experienced some connection drops (the video would stop playing after a few minutes on the Apple TV) and errors with the Vimeo website. I need to mention, though, that I’m running OS X, Safari and Apple TV beta software, so that might be the culprit. Even with these betas (OS X 10.7.2, Safari 5.1.1, Apple TV Software beta 6), ClickToPlugin’s AirPlay support worked fine most of the time, and I’m sure optimizations for the new OS and Safari will be available once Apple publicly releases the updates. I’ve also noticed you don’t have to keep a tab open after the video starts playing with AirPlay, but Safari can’t be quit or you’ll lose the AirPlay stream.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see native AirPlay support by Apple in a future version of Safari for Mac (or, even better, systemwide AirPlay support on OS X), but right now, ClickToPlugin and Media Center provide an interesting solution for those who want to comfortably enjoy video from their web browser on a widescreen TV. The extensions surely need some work and refinements, and it would be great to see them land on Chrome someday (if it’s even possible, I don’t know).

Go download ClickToPlugin and Media Center on Marc Hoyois’ website.


Firefox 7 Officially Released

Last month Mozilla officially introduced a new version of its browser, Firefox 6, but we noted that work on Firefox 7 was already underway as part of Mozilla’s new six-weeks fast release cycle. Firefox 7 has been officially released today, adding a number of memory and engine improvements to make the app speedier, and more reliable. Mozilla says they have “drastically improved” memory handling – this is something that Mozilla announced back in August when they claimed that Firefox 7 would use 50% less memory to address memory leaks, crashes, and general instability with lots of different open tabs. On Windows machines, a new rendering backend is said to be increasing performances of Canvas operations, whilst all platforms are getting better password and bookmark sync with Mozilla’s built-in sync tool.

The most visible change in Firefox 7 is the lack of the http:// prefix in the address bar:

The new Firefox also brings some changes for developers:

New tools in Firefox make it easier for developers to build snappy Web experiences for users. A new version of hardware-accelerated Canvas speeds up HTML5 animations and games in Firefox. This allows developers to build more compelling and interactive Web experiences like Angry Birds or Runfield.

Firefox now supports the W3C navigation timing spec API so developers can measure page load time and website navigation against bandwidth speed, website traffic and other factors. This API allows developers to test user experiences remotely and easily and quickly optimize websites and Web apps for different types of users.

From the release notes:

  • Added support for text-overflow: ellipsis
  • Added support for the Web Timing specification
  • Enhanced support for MathML
  • The WebSocket protocol has been updated from version 7 to version 8
  • Added an opt-in system for users to send performance data back to Mozilla to improve future versions of Firefox
  • Fixed several stability issues
  • Fixed several security issues

With version 7, Mozilla has also implemented a new usage statistic functionality called Telemetry that will help the company collect usage information (memory, CPU, startup speed) to improve future versions of Firefox.

Beginning with version 7, Firefox includes functionality that is turned off by default to send to Mozilla non-personal usage, performance, and responsiveness statistics about user interface features, memory, and hardware configuration. The only Potentially Personal Information sent to Mozilla when this functionality has been enabled is IP addresses. Usage statistics are transmitted using SSL (a method of protecting data in transit) and help us improve future versions of Firefox. Once sent to Mozilla, usage statistics are stored in an aggregate form and made available to a broad range of developers, including both Mozilla employees and public contributors. Once this functionality is enabled, users can disable it in Firefox’s Options/Preferences. Simply deselect the “Submit performance data” item.

Telemetry is off by default and needs to be manually enabled. The feature can also be deactivated from the Preferences.

Firefox 7 can be downloaded here. The latest version of the browser still doesn’t come with Lion-specific fixes and features, but mockups posted recently by Mozilla’s Product Visual Designer Stephen Horlander suggested the Firefox team is experimenting with new interface elements and navigation options for Firefox on OS X. Read more


Sleipnir Beta Comes To OS X with Group Tab Management and Sync

In the past months, I’ve reviewed several alternative browsers for iOS, and eventually settled with Grazing 2.0 because of its great multitouch support and push features that allow me to effortlessly and reliably share webpages across the Mac, iPhone and iPad through push notifications. However, amidst the plethora of shameless Safari copycats and relatively clever iPad browsers, there was Sleipnir, an iPhone app developed by Japanese studio Fenrir that impressed me with an innovative interface, and group tab management aimed at enhancing the iPhone’s browsing experience with the possibility of grouping tabs/websites by context through large thumbnail previews. Months later, Sleipnir came to the iPad, bringing an overhauled interface with bigger previews, and a new navigation system specifically built for the tablet. And now a beta of Sleipnir is available on the Mac, porting many of the functionalities seen on iOS to the desktop.

Sleipnir for Mac is in beta, and much is expected to change before the final release. The app is already compatible with OS X Lion, though it doesn’t support native full-screen mode in this first beta version, and some features like bookmark import are not working on my machine. In spite of the app being a little rough around the edges, Sleipnir for Mac is already pretty solid, and with free bookmark sync through the Fenrir Pass service it provides and interesting solution to use a non-default browser (like Safari) or more popular browsers like Google Chrome on iOS or the Mac.

On the Mac, Sleipnir displays tabs as mini-thumbnails in an address bar-free toolbar, which also contains a search field, a new tab button, and, optionally, your bookmarks. In spite of the lack of an address bar by default, Sleipnir lets you manually type in an address with the standard CMD+L shortcut (it will slide in the address bar), and it enables you to keep an eye on the currently opened webpage by visualizing its domain in the upper right corner (something that Mozilla has also been experimenting with in Firefox). The selected tab is constantly marked by an indicator that runs through the toolbar as you switch between pages, whilst tabs can be closed by clicking on the “x” button, or by using the CMD+W shortcut.

The biggest feature of Sleipnir is always been tab management through groups, and this has been ported to the Mac as well. Groups on the Mac are accessible from a window called “TiledTab”,  which displays large previews on a linen background, with groups in the bottom section of the page. You can move thumbnails between groups, search for tabs and rename groups, though I couldn’t find an option to delete existing groups or create new ones in this beta. Tab groups are useful if you usually keep a lot of tabs open and have been looking for ways to link related webpages together – furthermore, you can move between groups from the TiledTab UI with a two-finger swipe.

In the Preferences, Sleipnir lets you setup free bookmark sync using Fenrir Pass, and as we’ve seen before on the iPhone and iPad, Sleipnir’s implementation of bookmarks include things like an archive button, ribbons, and labels for deeper organization of saved webpages.

Sleipnir for Mac won’t replace the Safaris and Chromes of this world, but it’s got the feature set and ideas to become an alternative browser that you might want to use outside of your main browsing environment – say for research purposes (groups are great for that) or just to keep a different set of bookmarks always in sync between OS X and iOS.

You can download Sleipnir for Mac beta here, and get the universal iOS app for free on the App Store.


Firefox 6 Officially Released

Firefox 5 was released less than two months ago and work on Firefox 7 is already underway, and to keep up with their “fast release cycle” promise Mozilla has officially released Firefox 6 today, making the browser 20% faster than Firefox 5 and improving the behavior of tab groups in Panorama, the functionality that allows users to get a quick glance at open tabs from an elegant bird’s eye view. With Firefox 6, released nearly five months after Firefox 4, Panorama comes with faster start-up times as tab groups are only loaded when selected; another noticeable improvement – bug fixes and speed optimizations aside – can be seen in the address bar, which now highlights domain names to give you a better idea of the website you’re on.

The new Firefox also brings important changes for developers:

The new “Web Developer” menu in Firefox provides easy access to tools that help developers build and debug websites directly in the browser. Developers will enjoy the new Scratchpad tool, which makes it simple to quickly enter, execute, test and refine JavaScript snippets in Firefox without needing to work in a one-line console. The Web Console is improved with an auto-complete feature and the ability to customize the console’s location to save developers time.

Whilst Mozilla is busy keeping up with three major releases in testing in their Aurora, Beta and Stable channels, recently posted mockups have shown that the company is interested in updating the browser’s interface in the future to fully take advantage of OS X Lion. The current versions of Firefox (in all the three channels available) don’t come with native Lion features such as full-screen or popover menus, though Mozilla’s Product Visual Designer Stephen Horlander suggested the Firefox team is experimenting with (or at least discussing) new interaction methods and graphical elements for Firefox on the Mac.

You can read more about changes in Firefox 6 here, and download the latest update from Mozilla’s website. Check out more screenshots after the break. Read more


Mockups Show Lion Inspired Changes For Future Firefox

Like Google’s Chrome browser, Mozilla announced earlier this year its intention to move to a fast release cycle for new major versions of its popular browser for Windows, Linux and Mac, Firefox. Following the launch of Firefox 4 in March – which brought major design changes from Firefox 3 – Mozilla moved up its schedule and released Firefox 5 in June, just three months after the previous upgrade, adding a “Do not track” feature for all browsers and platforms, as well as other HTML5 and CSS improvements, although the UI design remained largely unchanged from Firefox 4. As part of Mozilla’s new channel-based alpha and beta testing, Firefox 6.0 is already available as beta, whilst Firefox 7.0 has been made available as early developer preview (or alpha) in the Aurora channel. You can read more about Mozilla’s new “every six weeks” policy here.

While waiting for the future Firefox 6.0 and 7.0, Mozilla’s Product Visual Designer with the Firefox team, Stephen Horlander, has posted some mockups of what the future Firefox could look like on Windows and OS X machines. The images, posted as a presentation on Mozilla’s website, don’t necessarily reflect any upcoming feature in the next versions of Firefox, but they provide some kind of insight into the kind of discussions the team is having in regards of what could come next.

As you can see from the image above (more here), the proposed solution unifies Firefox’s top bar to accomodate tabs, a Home button, a new tab button, as well as integrated add-on manager that has its own tab (much like Google Chrome opens its settings in new tabs, rather than windows). The mockups have been built on top of OS X Lion, as you can tell from the window texture and the traffic lights in the upper left corner. Speaking of which, Horlander has also played around with Lion’s monochrome and popovers, implementing monochromatic icons for cut/copy/paste, bookmarks and tab controls inside a settings popover accessible from a gear icon next to the address bar. Another screenshot shows native full-screen support with minimal chrome when browsing a website. On the PC side, the proposed changes are similar, but based on Windows’ default theme.

It’ll be interesting to see whether these Lion-inspired changes for Firefox on the Mac will evolve into an actual release in the coming months. Meanwhile, Windows users can install this fan-made theme that takes some of Horlander’s UI elements, and applies them to the current version of Firefox.


Grazing 2.0: Once Again, My Favorite iOS Browser

Back in September I first reviewed Grazing, an alternative web browser for the iPad that came out a few weeks after I complained about the average alternative browser for the iPad lacking the ideas, feature set or implementation to properly compete with Safari. Lots of things have changed since then, both with iOS Safari and the third-party development scene. Safari for iPhone and iPad got faster with the Nitro engine, received AirPlay support for any video found on the web and, with iOS 5, is also getting a major facelift with tabs on the iPad and other welcome additions such as tab undo and history right from the toolbar. On the other hand, the past few months have seen an explosion of alternative browsers that, in spite of the lack of Nitro JavaScript engine, are playing around with the craziest ideas when it comes to re-inventing web browsing on the tablet. I was impressed by the feature set of iCab Mobile (perhaps the most popular 3rd party browser for iOS), the UI of Sleipnir and the underlying concept of Portal, without a doubt the most innovative iPhone browser to date. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of alternative browsers for iOS now, and unlike last year many of them are really, really good. Apple still doesn’t allow iOS users to set a different default browser other than Safari, but third-party support has increased in the past months, so we’re starting to see integration with alternative browsers (usually iCab) in apps like Handoff and Mr. Reader.

Developers realized there could be so much more besides copying Safari and putting a sharing menu and tabs in an “alternative” browser. We have seen experiments with visual tabs, gestures, tab re-organization, and more. Is there still room for innovation? With iOS 5 bringing a slew of enhancements to Safari (including direct Twitter integration) and titles like iCab, Portal, Sleipnir, Skyfire and iChromy already available on the App Store, what’s next for third-party iOS browsers?

Grazing 2.0, a major update to the app I reviewed in September, provides an answer to this question by offering an interesting mix of features aimed at turning the app into a multitouch-enabled, platform-connected browsing experience for iOS. Read more


Inside Google+ Mobile Web App

Two days ago Google launched Google+, the company’s latest effort to get into the social networking space and build a platform to share content and connect people. For those who missed the coverage (you can find some detailed reports here and here), here’s the gist of Plus: it’s a social network connected to your Google account that looks a lot like Facebook but it’s got a cleaner design and a set of different “apps” tied together by the Plus brand. What does it mean for consumers? It means that whilst Circles, Huddle, Hangouts and Sparks could be seen as separate services and concepts, they’re in fact sections of the entire Google+ website. Yesterday, Google started allowing people to send invites to other users, which resulted in a massive explosion of invite requests on Twitter and thousands of new sign-ups. After a few hours, Google was forced to close invites due to “insane demand” and promise more coming in the next few weeks as the service scales to accomodate new users and more content.

Google+ has a strong mobile counterpart, too. As the service aims at empowering Google users to share and connect at any time from anywhere, Google built native apps for Android and iOS devices to let users enjoy the Google+ experience on the go, and upload media such as photos and videos shot with their phones. Furthermore, the mobile apps get access to Huddle, a group messaging feature built into Google+ that some are already eyeing as Google’s response to iMessage, only it works on both iOS and Android. However, the official iPhone app is not available yet, and Google says it’s “coming soon”. In the meantime though, users can try a mobile optimized web app, which relies on Google’s recent mobile UI changes to lay out a unified interface to access Google+ and switch between various Google services.

Last night, I signed up for Google+ and played around with the website. Today, I decided to take a look at the mobile web app which, surprisingly enough, might just be the nicest thing Google has ever done on iOS’ Mobile Safari. Read more


Opera 11.5 Released, Features Streamlined UI, Live Speed Dials And Password Sync

Opera has today released Opera 11.5, a fairly major upgrade on Opera 11, which was released six months ago. The update’s most obvious feature to users will be its new and improved “featherweight” UI that has been significantly streamlined – shredding a number of buttons and increasing the display area. According to Jan Standal, VP of Desktop Products at Opera, a major reason for the change was that users were reporting that Opera was slower than the other browsers. In 11.5, Opera is now around 10-15% faster in SVG rendering.

Opera’s Speed Dial is another feature that has received some big improvements in 11.5, and now touts a new ‘Live Speed Dial’ feature. The feature allows a new type of extension that lets developers create live content for a Speed Dial box. Some examples of this include a stock ticker, weather information and a Twitter box.

As all web browsers have been doing, Opera 11.5 continues to improve support for web standards and in particular HTML5. Another nice new feature is that passwords can now be kept in sync on multiple computers with Opera Link in 11.5 – but Opera makes special note that they have focused on improving security to enable this feature and have also introduced features to help users create secure passwords. The final new feature of note in Opera 11.5 is simplified installation of missing plug-ins, whether it be Flash, Java or some other plug-in, it can be installed with a few clicks and users do not have to restart the browser to start using them.

You can download Opera 11.5 for Mac and Windows directly from their website, the Mac App Store version has not yet been approved. Jump the break for some screenshots of Opera 11.5.

[Via TechCrunch]

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Send2Mac: An Easy Way To Send Webpages To A Mac Browser

Over the past few weeks I’ve mentioned on Twitter and in a couple of articles a service I’ve started using on my Macs and iOS devices, a simple tool that has contributed to making the process of sending webpages to remote computers incredibly easy. Send2Mac, a free service by developer Bastian Woelfle, installs as an app on your Mac and a bookmarklet in your browser to enable you to instantly send a webpage from any device or computer, to another Mac. It doesn’t matter where the target Mac is, or what kind of Internet connection you’re using on your iPhone, iPad, or office PC: as long as you can run a web browser and the remote Mac is connected to the Internet, the webpage will magically open in a few seconds.

In the past months, I’ve actually been busy trying to find the best way to remotely send webpages from a device to another. First, I came up with a Dropbox tweak to email links to myself, and watch them open in my desktop browser. Then I stumbled upon Push Browser, an iOS app and Chrome extension that enables you to send webpages back and forth between devices and desktop computers. I love Push Browser, but it’s got one major downside: on a Mac, it’s limited to Google Chrome, and I haven’t heard back from the developer about a possible Safari or system-wide integration. That’s why I thought of giving Send2Mac a try: rather than having a dedicated extension for each browser, this app directly plugs into a Mac’s default browser, whatever it is, and can send webpages to it. Simple. On the other end, Send2Mac generates a unique bookmarklet for each of your target machines, based on an API key thet you’re given randomly every time you visit send2mac.com to set up a new computer.

It works like this: I have two Macs, and both of them run the Send2Mac utility in the background. My MacBook Pro and iMac, however, have been assigned different API keys: they’re different, because they correspond to two different bookmarklets that let me send webpages from my iOS devices – or other computers I might happen to have. So when I’m on my iPhone and I find a webpage I’d like to check out later on my iMac, I hit the “Send2iMac” bookmarklet and it goes straight to the iMac, in a couple of seconds. If I want the page to open on my MacBook Pro, I hit the bookmarklet for that computer. If I want the page to open on my iMac, but while running Lion, I have another bookmarklet. It’s really simple: each target machine and OS has its own key and bookmarklet. No menus to navigate and no interface, you hit a button and the webpage travels from a browser to another.

I’d pay for Send2Mac if it were a premium service, but it’s surprisingly free and “might be really buggy”, as the developer writes on the app’s website. In my tests, I’ve found Send2Mac to work reliably as it’s even capable of launching a closed browser with the new webpage I sent because it’s a process that runs in the background all the time, alongside the default browser of your Mac. You can configure Send2Mac on iOS and Mac browsers, send webpages from Mac to Mac, iOS to Mac and even Windows to Mac as long as you have the bookmarklet installed.

You can start using Send2Mac by heading over here with your device, and generating a new API key for your Mac.