File Under: Browsers

Chrome 14 Adds Better Audio, ‘Native Client’ Support

Google has bumped Chrome 14 from the beta channel into the mainstream. Chrome 14 includes some improvements for Mac OS X users, support for the Web Audio API and Google’s “Native Client” tools are now enabled by default.

If you’d like to try out Chrome 14, head on over to the downloads page.

The biggest news in this release is that Google has enabled its Native Client framework.

Native Client is a set of open source tools that allow Chrome to run compiled C and C++ code the same way the browser currently runs JavaScript or other common web programming languages. Native Code offers both a security sandbox and a set of interfaces that provide C and C++ bindings to the capabilities of HTML5. That means web application developers will be able to tap into desktop libraries to create faster, more powerful web apps.

Despite the potential appeal of Native Client, so far it has not been adopted by other web browsers. Google has created an API for other browsers to tap into, but the lack of standardization seems to have kept any of Chrome’s rivals from jumping on board. However, despite the lack of browser support, Native Client will likely remain important for Google, particularly as part of the company’s Chrome OS platform.

Native Client has been available in previous releases of the Chrome browser, but it required starting Chrome with special flags to turn on Native Client. The latest release enables it by default, but unfortunately Native Client currently only works on apps from Google’s Chrome Web Store. The Chrome blog reports that Google plans to remove that limitation in future releases.

Chrome’s Web Audio API support has been improved in this release. New tools allow developers to add audio effects like 3D sound mixing. Google has some sample code available at Chromium’s Web Audio API demo page (be sure to check out the slightly creepy GAL 9000 experiment).

Fans of Apple’s new OS X Lion also get some love in this release. Chrome 14 offers better integration with OS X Lion, including support for Lion’s fullscreen functionality and the new, minimalist scrollbars.

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