All posts tagged ‘android’

File Under: Browsers

Chrome for Android Eases Mobile Headaches With Password, Form Syncing

Google has updated the stable channel of Chrome for Android to Chrome 26, which offers two new syncing features designed to save you a bit of time on mobile devices.

You can grab the latest version of Chrome for Android from the Google Play Store.

This release has two noteworthy features — password syncing and form autofill syncing. Keeping track of passwords is a pain and let’s face it, most mobile password managers leave much to be desired. With the new Chrome for Android you can sync and access your saved passwords across devices.

Even if you prefer not to have Chrome store your passwords for you, the form autofill syncing is equally handy — especially given how tedious it can be to fill out forms using your mobile device’s tiny keyboard.

Like all of Chrome’s syncing features, you’ll need to be signed into your Google account to use the new password and autofill sync.

This release also fixed a few bugs and offers some modest performance and stability improvements. For more details, see the Chrome blog.

File Under: Browsers, privacy

New Adblock Plus Doesn’t Need No Stinking Google Play Store

It may have been kicked out of the Google Play Store, but you can still get your Adblock Plus for Android.

In fact, even if you already have Adblock Plus installed on your Android phone you should install this latest release direct from the source since the older, Play Store-based versions will no longer be receiving updates.

To install Adblock Plus manually you’ll need to make sure that you’ve enabled your phone to install software from “unknown sources” (you can enable this in Settings under either Applications or Security, depending on which version of Android you have). Then just head over to the Adblock Plus site and hit the download link.

A number of people in the comments on the Adblock Plus site have reported installation problems with various Android phones, but I had no issues installing Adblock Plus on a Galaxy Nexus using the latest beta of Opera Mobile.

Among the notable changes in this release are the automatic updates — which no longer require the Google Play version — a new user interface theme and a fix for a bug that would sometimes cause blank pages in Chrome for Android. For the full details on everything that’s new, be sure to check out the release notes.

File Under: Mobile

Google Boots Ad Blockers From Google Play Store

Google has pulled the popular Adblock Plus and other ad-blocking apps from the Google Play store.

To be clear, that means Adblock Plus and its ilk are no longer available for Android users. So far nothing has changed in the Chrome Web Store, which still hosts plenty of ad-blocking add-ons for Google’s web browser.

The move shouldn’t be surprising given that ad-blocking software cuts into Google’s bottom line, though that’s not exactly why Google says the apps were removed. The company says that such apps violate the Play Store’s terms of service, specifically that they cause “interference with another service or product in an unauthorized manner.”

Naturally if you’ve already installed AdBlock Plus — or any other affected ad-blocking app — it will continue to work, though there will be no more updates. For that reason, Wladimir Palant, creator of AdBlock Plus, suggests users “install our next release from our website once it is out.”

Palant calls the move “surprising” and wonders if it suggests “a course change at Google.” It doesn’t seem particularly surprising to me, but Palant’s thoughts on all the “for rooted phones only” apps currently available in Play seem well-founded:

Until recently the main distinction between Android and iPhone was that Android allowed you to install any app as long as it wasn’t malicious (meaning that it’s obvious what the app does). Google Play still allows apps stating “for rooted phones only” but I wonder whether these are next on the list to be removed — each of them performs “unauthorized actions”.

What’s really surprising is that Google ever allowed these apps in the first place.

File Under: Browsers

Google Chrome Speeds Up the Small Screen

Webmonkey.com in the latest Chrome for Android Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey.

Google has released a major update to its Chrome for Android web browser.

The latest version of Chrome for Android — available in the Google Play Store — features an updated version of Google’s V8 JavaScript engine, which has finally been optimized for mobile devices. That means Chrome for Android should now be faster than the old, stock Android web browser.

According to Google, the latest version of Chrome for Android improves on Google’s Octane benchmark tests by 25 percent on average. While benchmarks aren’t always the best indicators of real-world performance gains, the speed boost should mean that JavaScript-heavy pages like Gmail or Facebook load a bit faster.

Our friends over at Ars Technica put the latest version of Chrome for Android through the paces using not just Google’s own Octane test, but the Sunspider and Kraken benchmarks as well. The results don’t always feature quite the speed improvement that Google claims, but this is without a doubt the fastest version of Chrome for Android yet.

The performance improvements aren’t just in JavaScript either. Scrolling webpages is much smoother and, most noticeable in my testing, pinch-to-zoom is much more responsive with none of the stuttering and lag that marred previous releases.

Other nice improvements include the ability to keep web audio playing even if you switch to another app (handy for music streaming sites), and support for coming web standards like CSS Filters.

Google has also released an update for Chrome on iOS, though the changes on the iOS side are largely cosmetic. Apple’s App Store policies prevent Google from including the V8 engine in Chrome, so iOS users won’t see any speed improvements. There are however a few design tweaks, like a unified search/URL bar and a quick way to see the entire history of a tab by holding down the back button.

File Under: Browsers

Google Brings 3-D Animations to Mobile With New Chrome for Android

Google’s Ro.me experiment running in Chrome for Android. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey

Google Chrome for Android is beefing up its animation powers. For now the new WebGL support is limited to developers willing to install the beta channel and delve into Chrome’s settings, but expect support for sophisticated WebGL animations to land in the final version of Chrome for Android soon.

If you’ve already installed the beta channel of Chrome for Android you’ll be automatically updated to the latest release. If you’d like to try it out, head over to the Google Play Store (unfortunately, searching the Play Store for “Chrome Beta” doesn’t work). It’s worth noting that Chrome and Chrome Beta install as two different apps.

WebGL is a JavaScript API for adding hardware-accelerated 2-D and 3-D rendering to the HTML5 Canvas tag. It’s the cornerstone of many sophisticated animations on the web — think cutting-edge games or interactive videos like Google’s earlier Ro.me experiment.

The WebGL API is based on OpenGL, a desktop graphics standard, which means WebGL can run on many different devices — your laptop, your phone, even your TV. That said, older Android phones will likely be a disappointment when it comes to rendering complex WebGL animations.

The latest Chrome for Android Beta gives users access to chrome://flags, a hidden menu page that allows interested developers to run experimental features. Head to that address and scroll down to find the option to turn on WebGL.

Other handy developer tools in chrome://flags include an FPS counter, which shows a page’s frame rate, CSS Shader support and the same experimental WebKit features option you’ll find in the desktop release of Chrome.