Safari 5! Oh yes is a web browser…

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Safari 5So what is the big deal about this new browser? We honestly don’t see anything new that other browsers don’t already have. Extensions have been around for quite some time. Firefox has had this feature for a while now which is why it leads in this category. Google Chrome also has this feature as well.

Our question to you folks is why opt for a web browser that is closed source and besides the extensions has very little to offer. The browser runs like garbage on a Windows PC and is not available for Ubuntu/Linux at all; Yes it does run well in its native environment (Mac OSX) but most users don’t own a MAC. Although the use of extensions is very good for developers to add much needed functionality to this new browser it really offers very little compared to what is currently out there.

Safari has a ton of HTML 5 capabilities but so do the other browser such as Chrome and Firefox. Just a couple of days ago Apple showcased a bunch of HTML 5 (http://www.apple.com/html5/) functions which could only be seen if you installed Safari. We know Apple wants to push its products to the point where it wants to shove them down our throats but come on HTML 5 is an open standard/markup language . We think this is totally ridiculous that in order to see it you had to either fool the web site by making it think you had a Safari browser or to actually download Safari.

Safari 5 ReaderSafari 5 may have some good features such as a good Javascript engine and the use of WebKit which is open source but besides this we really don’t see anything else other than the fact that its a tad faster and it has a built in reader. It also has created a partnership with Microsoft to bring BING as the default search engine (Why would you dump Google and go with Bing?) and that it supposedly uses hardware acceleration. Take a look at all the new features here (http://www.apple.com/safari/whats-new.html).

In terms of security Apple has decreed that in order to create any extensions for its browsers developers must attain a digital signed certificate which to us seems reasonable and is free to obtain one, but you do see where we are going with this. Just like with the Apple store it will reject any extensions it does not like. So sure developers can go ahead and go crazy with extensions development . In the end however if Apple does not want to allow your extensions it simply will not issue a security certificate and your extension wont be published.

Apple has made it easier for the developers to built extensions and it will not use the same XUL language as Firefox to built the extensions as it will use a build in package called Extensions Builder which will allow the developers a much easier way to built and deploy their extensions.

As with the current stable version of Safari it will render pages very well with the exception to Web fonts which it currently blows out of proportion depending on the font. For example if you try to incorporate the Google font API into your existing web sites some of these fonts will not render correctly, Internet Explorer 7 has this same issue by the way.

Until Apple makes this browser available for all operating systems we don’t see why anyone would want to use it or even create extensions for it as it has very little market share and lacks functionalities that the other browsers currently have. What Apple should do is follow Opera’s lead and make it available to everyone. Apple sure loves to use Open Source code in their products but wont even make a crack in their closed closet door.

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Google Chrome Web Browser Version 6

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The new version of Google Chrome web browser has been released (http://www.google.com/chrome/intl/en/more/index.html). This new version uses the WebKit engine (http://webkit.org/) to render its HTML/CSS and JavaScript pages. It also boosts support for lots of CSS3 features such as the ones found here (http://tinyurl.com/35lupzz) plus lots of HTML5 features as well. The browser also lets you import your Fire Fox bookmarks and it allows you to sync your bookmarks across PCs which have the Google Chrome browser already installed(very cool feature).

Google Chrome Start Page extesion

Speed

The one thing that has really impressed us about the browser is its speed. We have tested the browser across several operating system such as Windows(XP,7), Mac OSX and Ubuntu 10.04 and it is fast. Very quick to start up and loading the actual web sites. The only other web browser out there that is faster than Google Chrome is Opera 10.10(http://www.opera.com/browser/). This new version also features a faster JavaScript engine which makes JavaScript driven applications to perform much faster.

Security

In terms of security the browser is very solid just like Fire Fox 3.x(http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/personal.html). It actually warns you if you have stumbled into a web site which could harm your PC. This however does not mean you should throw away your anti-virus software specially if you are on a Windows PC(regardless of the version your are running).

Google Chrome Feedly page

Extensions

In this area just like Fire Fox the browser shines as it already has tons of extensions for you to choose from and they work extremely well. You can also find most extensions which are available for Fire Fox such as Feedly or Pixlr Grabber. In terms of developing extensions Chrome makes it easy to do so, you can take a look at this article here (http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/write-chrome-extension/).

Conclusion

In our opinion if you have not tried Google Chrome you should for three reasons.

  1. Faster web browsing experience
  2. Better security
  3. Lots of extensions to choose from.

If you are currently running Internet Explorer (6,7 or 8 ) and you don’t necessarily need it for any specific web applications then we say dump it like your life depends on it as it lacks support for various CSS 2.1, CSS 3 and HTML 5 features which are rapidly being deployed to new web sites. On this merit alone Internet Explorer should be dropped like a bad habit (not to mention security issues).

If you are running the latest version of Opera or Fire Fox then you should be OK as both of these browsers keep adding more CSS 3/HTML 5 functionalities. But if your adventurous then give Google Chrome a shot you just might like it. Take a look at some of the capabilities of Google Chrome here http://www.chromeexperiments.com/ and you can download it here http://www.google.com/chrome?hl=en.

Microsoft Tags, what could this be?

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Finally Microsoft has done something which could put them on the map to catch up to Google in terms of bringing relevant information to users all over the world.

Microsoft Tags (http://tinyurl.com/3x3ts9g) is a service which the company has recently released and get this “it is a free service” to use. It works by placing tags in the real world such as a billboard or any landmark then people with mobile devices can access this information. This means that if for example you are in the realty business and you place these tags on some of the properties you are selling you could access more detailed information about such properties on your mobile devices.

This reminds me of the Minority Report (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0181689/) which would scan people’s eye retinas to serve them personalized ads (I see this coming very soon to the U.S). I believe that such a technology already exists in Japan and it could make its way on to the U.S.

However this being great and all that Microsoft has finally done something innovative. I wonder if this service/technology will only be available to Windows 7 mobile phones. I really doubt folks with Android phones will be able to use it. I somehow don’t see Microsoft sharing or allowing other mobile devices accessing this information. So lets not put our hopes up on this one folks.

It would be great if they did make it available to everyone just think of the possibilities in terms of how much information people would be able to access on the spot. Think of it in terms of students conducting research studies or if your at a museum or at a historical landmark and being able to get all the information about a particular piece of art or place.

This is the kind of innovative technologies Microsoft should be focusing on instead of trying to keep its tight lock on the world with its Windows/Office products.

I would be great if they would make it open source with a GPL license.

The DOJ knocking on Apple’s iron closed doors

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Recent news that Apple has surpassed Microsoft for the King of Technology title (http://tinyurl.com/38oxxjz) has stirred up some additional controversies with regards to the DOJ(Department of Justice) wanting to start an antitrust investigation into Apple’s iTunes music monopoly and everything else.

It seems that Apple has been making shady deals with the music labels (http://tinyurl.com/354mssu) to only release their new titles on iTunes before any other major on-line competitors such as Amazon or Walmart. Amazon and Walmart only account for 12% of on-line music sales while Apple’s iTunes accounts for 70%. Well this 70% is whats got the DOJ knocking on Apple’s iron closed doors.

Now lets add to this that Apple has recently announced that they will be launching an advertising platform (http://tinyurl.com/ybfdwrk) which will compete against Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and wait for it Adobe’s ad platform (http://www.gigya.com/public/Content/Widget.aspx). This explains their recent rejection of flash no matter what Steve Jobs tells the press or how many letters he writes about Adobe Flash being too resource intensive and not performing up to part on the iPhone or iPad. Steve Jobs claims do have some merit but is not an excuse to dump Flash period.

The DOJ is also looking in to the fact that Apple only wants to have developers use their very own development tools to develop applications for the iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch and the iPad. This means that you must buy a Mac and sign-up for a developers account through Apple’s website. Developers can’t just say well “I’m going to use Eclipse (http://www.eclipse.org/) to develop my applications” no you must have a Mac. The one thing that’s got me puzzled is why would Apple do this when they provide an SDK for these devices. Developers should have a choice in writing their applications in whatever IDE they see fit.

Take the Android OS for instance; It lets developers use whatever tool they want and across a variety of platforms/operating systems. This could be due to the fact that Android is open source and has no specific platform which is trying to push. This could also explain the recently high numbers Android’s got in sales (http://tinyurl.com/2b2yrvu).

This leads me to the conclusion that Apple is worst than Microsoft when it comes to vendor-lock in schemes. Not only do they make you buy a Mac so you can create software for their devices but also lock down these devices so that they only function with a Mac/iTunes.

So yes I say let the DOJ have their way with Apple and I hope that they bring that iron closed door down. Because if this happens it will benefit us consumers a great deal.

On a side note there were some rumors that Steve Ballmer would address developers at WWDC

on how they can write/develop applications for Apple devices through Visual Studio 2010. Is Visual Studio 2010 not a third party tool; If this is true why can they do this but not any other small tech firm who sells third party development tools?