There have been hints and rumors circulating for several weeks that Google would bring its popular Now feature over from Android and into the Chrome web browser. Now, pun-intended, it seems is that time, but only a little bit.
The latest build of Canary, the development channel version of Chrome, has been updated to version 28 and with it comes a Now feature that users can enable. Canary can thankfully be run side-by-side with a stable or beta build of the browser so that users are not forced to run it full-time — a good thing since it can be buggy at times.
Today, when I fired up Canary build 28 and accessed chrome://flags I found the ability to enable Now (it is disabled by default). You will need to scroll all the way to the bottom of the Flags page to find it, as it is the last entry. Click “Enable”, but do not get your hopes up yet. It is early, and so far it does exactly nothing. The Google Now server URL still remains secret, rendering the service useless for the time being.
Still, this means the service is coming to your computer, though I expect it to be less useful here than on an Android device that moves around with you, but it remains to be seen what Google may add to a computer version of it.
Today Google and hardware maker Acer announced the latest Chromebook laptop, following closely on the heels of the recent Samsung release. Once again, Acer has undercut Samsung on the price by offering a $199 notebook and beating Samsung by $50.
The Acer notebook has been officially named the C7 and packs some impressive specs given the price. It has an 11.6 inch display, Intel Core processor, boots up in 18 seconds, a 320GB hard drive, 1080p video and 100GB of free storage on Google Drive. The only knock here may be a rather poultry 3.5 hours of battery life. On the other hand, it’s a pretty thin device that resemble today’s popular Ultrabooks.
While Chromebooks only run the Google Chrome operating system and aren’t compatible with traditional software like Microsoft Office, they make up for this in speed and simplicity. The cloud storage is handy and services like Google Docs and web apps make up for this as well. Plus, if you just can’t live without Office then you can still access it using Office Web Apps or Office 365.
So, will these recent offerings from Samsung and now the even cheaper one from Acer be enough to make you switch? A full notebook computer for the price of a Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD is certainly going to be tempting. Plus, Google has been fast at work updating and improving the Chrome OS and things will only get better from here.
Google has released the latest beta version of their popular web browser, Chrome. Number 15 (for those keeping count) has some real changes – much more than some new versions, which have been simply bug fixes. This comes within days of Chrome 14 hitting the stable channel.
Of course, the changes have become fewer because the browser has matured. Over time, though, we have seen it take shape as more of an operating system in a window, as opposed to just a web browser. That makes sense because of the development of Chrome OS and the introduction of the first “Chromebook” computers. And, if Android is an indicator, then we better watch out for when the Chrome OS really gets going.
The biggest change in Chrome 15 is the New Tab page. It’s been completely redesigned to better allow users to optimize their tabs and launch multiple pages. According to the official Google announcement, “Your apps, bookmarks, and most visited sites now appear in three different sections on the page. You can flip between these different sections by clicking the section labels at the bottom of the page or the arrows at the side of the page. Chrome will remember the last section you flipped to and return to it when you open a new tab.”
The second big change will probably benefit users the most. Previously, when a new version of an app was available for installation, it would direct the user back to the Chrome Web App Store to download and install it. Now, “trusted partners” can allow users to install updates on-the-fly with no redirects.
These changes could be tempting for many users, and many potential Chromebook buyers. They are certainly making my eye wonder from my trusty Firefox browser. I have Chrome installed, but I can’t tear myself away from Firefox just yet… However, that Asus Chromebook I have been eying is looking a little bit more tempting today…
You can get the Chrome 15 Beta here.
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Over the past 24 hours I have been using my Chromebook exclusively. I want to share my initial thoughts.
Chrome Web Store – User Experience Negative
- Significantly Lacking Compelling Apps
- Many of the Apps simply do not work on Chromebook
- Unable to tell if App is Chromebook ready on website
- Site Navigation sucks
- For a $500.00 Laptop it still feel underpowered
- Lid needs to bend back farther
- Switched fast between Wifi and Verizon Wireless
- Amazing Batter Life
- Touch Pad ok but still a bit hokey
- Boot Speed Amazing
- Have not figured out how to use HD camera
- Feature sets Feels Half Baked.
- No way to do screen captures.
- Printing is a pain to setup.
- File Management System Feels Half Baked.
I showed of the Chromebook to at least 20 people today and all felt it was more powerful than a iPad but severely laking apps. It is obvious to me that most expected it to be more like a smartphone and that the majority of the folks have expectations set for capabilities similar to iPhone and Android.
I am sure that I am being overly critical at this point, but Google has had a while to get their act together on this. While I am sure they will close the gap, there is a huge opportunity her for app developers to easily get to the top of the leader board if they design a Chromebook specific application.
As much as I am complaining, I will likely use it a lot more than my iPad simply because it has a keyboard and I can type faster with a keyboard and the browsing experience is better than the iPad by a long show.
Ironically this blog post is written on Firefox on my Computer versus my Chrome browser on my Chromebook because I could not capture or insert images in the wordpress editor.
I know I have my Chromebook about a week early. It is pretty obvious because the boys at Google are not ready for us yet. When I went over to Picasa the site thought I was a Linux machine and asked me to download some Linux RPM file.
Also when you visit the Chrome Web Store and try and install some apps they kinda get confused. I installed a screen capture app made by Google. It will capture the image but it kinda like gets lost when trying to figure out where to save it.
These are the big things Google is going to have to solve and like yesterday. If I install an App from the Chrome Web Store it better work on the Chrome OS aka Chromebook if it doesn’t it just is gonna piss people off.
So here is my advice to Google, flag the apps that will work well with the Chromebooks and hide the rest. I surely do not want to have to figure it out myself..
If these little things can be fixed, then the developers can also see what is missing and start designing apps for the Chromebook and the Chrome OS
I received the Samsung Chromebook today and thought I would do a quick unboxing. Had a little screen glare during parts of it but we will get it hooked up to the tricaster for future screen demos.
So far so good but I have discovered one major issue, it fails to connect to my main wireless router in the house on my high speed connection. It will connect to my secondary connections no problem but I have no idea why it refuses to connect to my main connection.
The data plans are not as generous as the iPad, Verizon is offering 1gb for $9.99 per month. There is no 2gb plan at all. I picked the 1gb plan to see how far it will really take me.
Bootup after setup is 3-4 seconds tops.
I look forward in seeing how far we can go with the Chrome OS on “The Chrome Show” launching here in a few days!
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