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Posts tagged with "browser"

1Password 4.1

1Password 4.1

A new version of 1Password for iOS has been released on the App Store, and it contains several fixes and improvements, including some that I suggested in my initial review of the app. Aside from sync improvements and Display settings (I can now set Inconsolata as my password font), I particularly appreciate the possibility to double-tap on a tab on the iPad to go back to root view, and search in portrait mode on iPad. It is no longer needed to tap & hold on rows on item view to show the popup menu, and tapping a secure note shouldn’t bring up the keyboard anymore (as I mentioned in my review, I found that behavior confusing). If you have attachments in secure notes, they’ll now be shown as well in version 4.1.

My favorite feature of 1Password 4.1 is the new URL scheme. There are two types of 1Password URLs: one for search, and another to quickly open a website into 1Password’s built-in browser. The search URL is: onepassword://search/ followed by your search string. You can easily configure this with Launch Center Pro’s keyboard prompt to automatically bring up a search for an item in 1Password starting from Launch Center Pro. If you launch 1Password via URL scheme while it’s locked, 1Password will obviously ask you for the master password first, then proceed to visualize results that match your search.

The URL scheme for opening websites is far more useful for me. You can prepend “op” to a normal Safari URL (so it’ll look something like “ophttp://”) to open it directly into 1Password. For instance, typing op in Safari will launch Google in 1Password’s browser. Therefore, I made a bookmarklet that you can click in Safari to open the current website in 1Password even faster; simply create a bookmarklet with this code:


…And 1Password will launch the website you’re currently viewing. I tested the bookmarklet in Safari and Chrome for iOS; it has become a huge timesaver to quickly log into websites that I access on a frequent basis.

There are many other improvements in 1Password 4.1 that make the app faster, more stable, and that fix some of the graphical glitches that I mentioned in my review. There are some subtle additions as well, such as different colors for digits and symbols in the password field when a cell is selected. 1Password is one of my must-have iOS apps, and make sure to check out the new 4.1 version on the App Store.


Personal Search Results In Google with CloudMagic and Evernote

Personal Search Results In Google with CloudMagic and Evernote

Following my decision to switch back to Google Chrome as my default desktop browser, I have installed two extensions that are making Google search results more useful for me.

Last week, I installed the Evernote web clipper for Chrome, which was capable of displaying my own Evernote notes alongside Google’s search results. This means I can look for, say, “AppleScript iTunes” and likely find something that I had already clipped in Evernote in the past. It is a powerful addition when combined with Evernote’s new Related Notes feature; it also allows me (in the extension’s options) to make the thumbnail results open directly with the Evernote Mac app when clicked. Evernote announced yesterday the possibility to have the same kind of inline results with Safari.

The second addition is CloudMagic’s new extension, which I discovered today thanks to TechCrunch. MacStories readers know why I like CloudMagic:

CloudMagic is fast: it can search across thousands of indexed items in seconds, with results updating in real time. It is astonishingly accurate, even when it has to match a couple of words with, say, hundreds of tweets from last year or an Evernote PDF inside a nested notebook. I use CloudMagic on a daily basis to retrieve old tweets (as reference material), email messages, or notes; in fact, I would say the app has better search than Evernote’s iOS app. Which, by the way, is supported with an URL scheme – so you’ll be able to search notes and open them directly in the Evernote app.

The new CloudMagic extension is exactly what you think it is. Once installed, it’ll find results for your Google query by looking inside the accounts you’ve already configured with CloudMagic. By using both Evernote and CloudMagic, I can get Google results in an instant (the main Google search results load first), then get relevant results from my email inbox, Twitter accounts, Dropbox and Evernote notes, and more Evernote related notes thanks to Evernote’s different algorithm. I would say that 50% of my searches are for items that I have already saved in the past but that I have also likely forgotten about. CloudMagic and Evernote results in the browser allow me to keep using Google but also have my own results show up alongside the normal search I’m used to.

The updated CloudMagic extension is available here.


OmniFocus Browser Bookmarklet and Safari 6

OmniFocus Browser Bookmarklet and Safari 6

Ever since upgrading to Safari 6 and Mountain Lion, I’ve noticed the OmniFocus bookmarklet I had installed stopped working properly. The OmniFocus bookmarklet is a handy addition to my workflow, in that it allows me to quickly save webpages I need to act upon at a later date, while preserving their title, link, and text selection. I often do this for linked posts that end up here on MacStories, or pages that I need to check out but that I’m not ready to bookmark yet (for that, I use Pinboard).

In theory, the OmniFocus bookmarklet should be capable of grabbing a webpage’s URL and selection (if any) as a note. However, of the two bookmarklets provided by The OmniGroup, none of them manages to successfully grab text selection on my machine running Safari 6 and OS X 10.8.1. So I set out to find a better bookmarklet, and I found this version by Alex Popescu that, besides working correctly, has also some nice integration with Gmail.

For Gmail, the bookmarklet creates a new task with the email title as the task title and a note with the current selection (if any), plus a from line in the form: From: email subject:(email subject) email_thread_url. For normal web pages, the bookmarklet creates a new task with the document title as the task title and a note with the current selection (if any), plus a from line in the form: From: page_url.

I tested this on Safari 6, and it works as advertised. The bookmarklet also works on iOS devices, albeit the iPhone’s Mobile Safari can’t send the current text selection from a page to OmniFocus.

Get the bookmarklet here.


Lion Full-Screen, New Tab Page Sneak Into Early Firefox 12 Build

One of the next versions of Firefox, Firefox 12, may feature a series of new interface elements and functionalities that should both appeal to OS X Lion users and introduce new navigation options for those who dont’ want to save their-most accessed websites in a bookmarks bar anymore. As first noted by ExtremeTech, an early version of a proposed new tab page design snuck into a nightly version of Firefox; per Mozilla’s multiple channel releases, users of Firefox can test different versions of the browser, which range from Nightly to Aurora, Beta, Stable, and those uploaded directly to Mozilla’s FTP servers.

ExtremeTech wrote about the new tab page:

The Firefox home tab is a lot more exciting. Basically there are two phases: The first phase will add “launchers” at the bottom — one-click links to your downloads, settings, apps, and so on (pictured right). Phase two is a complete reworking of the home page paradigm, weaving in favorite apps, recent websites, and even instant messaging (pictured below). Phase one is expected to roll out with Firefox 12, but at the time of writing the code still hasn’t been committed.

However, as also noted in an update to the original post, it appears Mozilla has pulled the functionality from the Nightly release of Firefox, leaving it in the “UX version” available for download on Mozilla’s servers. Upon comparing the standard Nightly build to the UX one, I noticed the latter already contains the grid design for top websites pictured above, and full-screen support for Lion.

I wasn’t able to activate ExtremeTech’s home tab page design with search, Top Apps, Top Sites and Chat in a single window; the current Firefox UX Nightly build features shortcuts along the bottom of the window to open History, Settings, Add-ons, Apps, and Downloads. A new “Restore Previous Session” button is also provided in case you haven’t set Firefox to automatically re-open previously open tabs on launch.

Changes that appear in Firefox Nightly builds typically carry over to the other stages of development and are further tweaked with refinements and bug fixes, but there could be changes in the features that Mozilla decides to implement once version 12 hits the beta channel. As for Lion support, Mozilla failed to deliver any significant optimization since the OS’ release back in July, unlike competitor Chrome which added new scrolling, full-screen support and gesture navigation (among other things) fairly quickly. A designer at Mozilla mocked up some ideas that the company could deliver in a future version of Firefox for Lion, but as of version 12 nightly (Firefox stable is currently at version 9) it seems those ideas haven’t been taken into consideration yet.

Thomas Brand On The History of Camino

Thomas Brand On The History of Camino

Thomas Brand has published a detailed overview of Camino’s timeline and unfortunate demise earlier this year due to Mozilla’s decision to officially discontinue Gecko embedding, which Camino uses. For those not familiar with it, Camino was the advanced browser in the early days of OS X when Safari wasn’t out yet and IE was still the only decent choice for Mac users.

Even though I still have Camino installed on my computer it fails to qualify as a reliable alternative browser less than two months since its last update. I am saddened that Camino must die in the effort to save Firefox, a browser that has gotten just a bloated as the Netscape Suite it once replaced. By losing Camino we will not only see the end of a browser that once made the Mac great, but the end of development community focused solely on the advancement of a Macintosh only application.

As written on Camino’s blog back in March, the future beyond version 2.1 (current release) is “unclear”.


Grazing 2.1 & Grazing for OS X: Push Links Back to the Mac

When Grazing 2.0 was released in July, I wrote it was my favorite iOS browser. Three months into this summer’s major update, it still is: Grazing, available on the iPhone and iPad, managed to find the right combination between offering “alternative features” that would make a paid app worth its price (Apple’s Safari, a more than fine browser, comes pre-installed on all iOS devices and is gaining some sweet improvements in iOS 5), while at the same time being simple enough for the average user to be able to approach it without feeling overwhelmed by a custom interface and overly designed functionalities. Grazing doesn’t look like Safari and it’s got a few more buttons and actions than Apple’s browser, but it does feel and work like a regular desktop browser, only ported to the iPhone and iPad. Things I loved about Grazing included tabs, gestures, combined search/address bar, possibility to push links between devices, and several customization options for the sharing menu and settings.

With the 2.1 update released last week and a new free Mac companion app for push notifications, my favorite features of Grazing have been taken to the next level, offering a simple solution for something I’ve been looking for since February. Read more

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.