While the Opera web browser may not have the largest market share, it is the source off many browser innovations. Tabbed browsing got its start in Opera, and the browser was one of the first to broadly support emerging standards like HTML5 and CSS 3.
The second beta release is primarily a slew of bug fixes and doesn’t offer much in the way of new features. Still, if you’ve been enjoying the first beta, this release should make the experience a little more stable. And now Mac users can get into the party as well, though 10.5 beta 2 is unfortunately only available for Windows users. Mac users are only caught up as far as Opera 10.5 beta 1.
Also worth mentioning is that native HTML5 video is working in both Windows and Mac version of Opera 10.5 beta. Opera joins Firefox as the second browser to go with the Ogg Theora codec for native web video.
Google has made the first betas of its Chrome web browser available for Mac and Linux users, the company announced Tuesday.
Here are the links for Mac and Linux. You should download Chrome and begin using it now. These are still betas and not as stable as a final releases, but everyone who lives and works on the web should experience Chrome first hand.
For the past two months, I’ve been using Google Chrome as my primary browser on both of my Macintosh computers, an old Mac Mini and a new iMac. Even though it wasn’t officially available for Mac and Linux, Google posted developers’ builds for early adopters to try out. The company warned that they weren’t fully ready — the easiest way to find them was to run a search for “Google Chrome danger” — but in my tests, I found Chrome to have very few problems. More like quirks, actually.
Even as a test app, it has largely replaced Firefox as my go-to browser. It occupies the top slot in my Mac’s Dock, just below the Finder.
The pre-beta Mac version had problems with some text input fields, like the one in WordPress used for composing blog posts. It also had a few issues with the scrollbar causing the video playback window to go blank on some sites. The pre-beta Linux version had fewer problems, but it did exhibit some strange user interface behaviors.
Now, those problems have been ironed out. The Chrome development team has been very cautious about releasing Mac and Linux versions of the browser that are free of bugs and as stable as possible, which is the reason these betas have taken so long. Feeling the pressure, Google made a public promise to release the betas before the end of the year.
I should point out that you need an Intel Mac and OS X 10.5 or later to run the Mac version. The Linux version of Chrome runs in both Gnome and KDE, and it can be installed with most package managers.
Windows users have had official releases for over a year now, allowing Chrome to capture just over five percent of the browser share. Also on Tuesday, Google released an extensions platform for the non-Mac versions of Chrome. This lack of extensions is the one thing keeping a lot of people from switching to Chrome from Firefox, still the preferred browser of most forward-looking web citizens.
So, now that Chrome is widely available and has extensions (official extensions support for the Mac is coming soon, but the daring can enable them now by jumping through some hoops), should Mozilla, Apple and Opera be worried?
They’re all smart companies, so we’re sure they already are. Besides possessing the sex appeal of the “new shiny,” Chrome delivers where every other browser falls short — the promise of extreme speed.
I’ve been using it for everything. Amazon, news websites and blogs, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, uploading photos to Flickr and Picasa, browsing HD content on Vimeo. Of course, all of the Google apps perform like lightning. Gmail, Google Reader, Calendar, Docs and Wave are all so responsive, they almost don’t feel like web apps. With the exception of YouTube, all of Google’s web apps, and most other web apps, perform with almost zero latency.
Chrome is totally bare bones, making it lean and ultra-responsive. Tabs slide open and closed, and they’re on the top of the window, reducing clutter. Subtle fades and shading effects are applied to the inactive areas of the browser, helping highlight whatever it is you’re looking at.
Chrome’s “Omnibox” is a revelation. It takes the idea of Firefox’s “Awesomebar,” a combination URL bar and a search box for history and bookmarks, and goes one step further. Chrome does away with all other input fields, so if you need any information at all, there’s one place to ask for it. The Omnibox responds to the characters you’re typing, suggesting sites from your history, your favorites and from Google’s suggested search system. Firefox’s interface does the same thing, but it does it with two input fields (Firefox draws revenue from its separate search box, which defaults to Google) and Firefox doesn’t respond as quickly with suggestion.
There are lots of other things Chrome does. It isolates web apps into their own tabs, so a crashing app doesn’t crash the whole browser. It has themes and private browsing, and a thumbnail view of your favorite sites appears when you open a new tab.
Extensions support will remain a sticking point for many users. For everyday browsing, I found I didn’t really miss my extensions that much. And if I did, Firefox was only a mouse gesture away.
Look at it this way. Browsers are free, and they all have their particular strengths, so you should really have at least two.
Firefox is great. It’s fast enough, safe and full of useful features, like a five-seater Volvo or a sporty VW sedan. But when you just want to rip around as fast as you can, you go for the two-seater Porsche.
A new version of Transmission, the popular Mac/Linux BitTorrent client, has been released. This is a significant update that adds a new browser-based interface for managing your torrents remotely. The remote features come from Clutch, which has been included with the latest version of Transmission.
The new remote management feature is listed as experimental, but I didn’t have any trouble setting it up and was able to browse and control torrents from other machines on my home network. Firefox 3 didn’t load the stylesheet quite right on my Mac, but the Windows version had no trouble.
The Transmission web interface uses a CSS skin that makes it look indistinguishable from the actual app, so there’s no hunting for menu items in unfamiliar places. All permissions and IP whitelists are handled through the client, but otherwise the web interface has the same basic feature set.
Also new in this version of Transmission is support for Leopard’s Quick Look feature — just select a torrent and hit the spacebar. Of course if most of your torrent downloads are folders or disk images there isn’t much to see in Quick Look, but it’s there if you want it.
As commenters on Lifehacker have pointed out, the ability to serve Clutch out over SSL has been removed. But, as also discussed in the comments, you could set up SSL encryption if you have access to an Apache server you can use as a proxy.
Transmission is free and you can grab the latest Mac and Linux versions from the download page.
Apple has pushed out a series of updates for its iLife ’08 suite with bug fixes and stability improvements for iMovie, iPhoto, iWeb, and more. There aren’t really any new features, though iPhoto does gain some new greeting and postcard themes.
Also updated is iLife Support which handles the integration between the apps and should make things a bit more stable. The only noticeable difference in the new versions is that all menu items related to .Mac support and syncing have been updated to reference the new (awfully named) MobileMe.
Incidentally, if you’re a Mac user and you’ve been having issues with software or hardware, our own Gadget lab is currently collecting stories. Head on over to leave your own gripes and tales of horror.
If you regularly plug in external devices you know all about that frustrating dialog box, “this device is currently in use” which prevents you from ejecting the device. Wouldn’t it be much more helpful if the system told you which files were in use?
That’s the idea behind a clever little Mac donationware app by the name of What’s Keeping Me?. The idea is pretty simple, just type in the name of the device you’re trying to eject and What’s Keeping Me will identify the file or application that’s in use.
What’s Keeping Me then offers you the option to quit, relaunch, or kill the application.
Now it’s true, you can accomplish something similar with Activity Monitor or even the command line option lsof, but What’s Keeping Me offers a very nice graphical interface and makes things much easier.
In a perfect world there would be no need for this app as the Finder’s dialog box would say something useful like: “Can’t eject device X, file [file name] is in use by [app name].” But since we don’t live in that world at least now you have a solution.
If you’re on Windows and looking for something similar, check out UnLocker.