Chrome Apps are coming to iOS and Android

By Kwame Opam

Moto X small


News broke last month that Google was working on bringing Chrome webapps to mobile devices, with a plan to have something ready in beta form by January. Google has delivered; the company has today released a toolset for developers to port their apps to iOS and Android.


As previously reported, Google has developed a compatibility layer using the open source Apache Cordova toolchain to allow programmers to wrap their apps in a native app shell and distribute the app on the App and Google Play stores. The tool also ports the necessary Chrome APIs the web apps would typically need on mobile, like notifications and access to local storage. The toolchain is currently an early preview, so improvements are surely on the way.

Google announced plans to bring Chrome Apps to the desktop back in September, but only delivered on the promise last month in debuting apps for OS X. Windows users will still have to wait.


Google Is Working On A “Chromoting” App For iOS Users, Too

by  (@sarahintampa)

message spotted on, home to the open source browser project Google Chrome is based on, states that a “Chromoting” application is in development for iOS devices. This would allow users to control their computers from their iPhone or iPad, for example. An Android version of this same technology has been indevelopment since last year, it’s been previously reported.

These mobile clients would be an extension of Google’s earlier efforts with its Chrome Remote Desktop screen sharing and remote access service, which exited from beta in fall 2012. With that still somewhat under-hyped Chrome application, users can securely share their computer over the web with others for things like remote tech support, or simply access their own computers, applications and files from another desktop or laptop.

The benefit to using the Chrome application over competing solutions designed for professionals, like LogMeIn or TeamViewer, for example, is that it’s turnkey for existing Chrome users, and also, it’s free. (At least for now).

From the brief post on the site, we’ve learned that the iOS version of the so-called “Chromoting” mobile client is still very unpolished at this point, and not surprisingly, further behind in development than its Android counterpart.


But at the very least, it’s a confirmation that the project is still in the works. (Today, there’s a version of the Android client available, but you have to compile the app from source because there’s not an official version being distributed at this time.)

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Details regarding the overall feature set, or a general timeframe to launch are still under wraps for these official “Chromoting” clients, but we’ve reached out to Google to see if the company would be willing to clarify the status of the project. We’ll update this post if or when we hear back.

UPDATE, 1/17/14, 4:45 PM ET: Google declined to provide any clarification on this matter, saying only: “We’re always experimenting with new features in Chrome, especially in the Dev channel, but have nothing to announce at this time.”

Hat tip: 9to5Mac

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Chrome 32 fights back against tab noise

Which of my two dozen browser tabs is that obnoxious sound coming from? The latest Chrome stable will tell you, while offering a lengthy list of other fixes.



Tabs in Chrome 32 Beta will notify you via icons when they’re streaming audio.
(Credit: Google)

Think of it as Google’s annoying horsefly detector, where the irritating insect is one of your dozens of tabs streaming audio.

A new feature in Tuesday’s update to Google Chrome brings to the masses a tab indicator to tell you when a site is streaming audio. The feature will add a speaker icon to tabs streaming audio, a red record button when a tab is using your Webcam, and a Google Cast icon when you’re sending a tab to your Chromecast.

Google Chrome 32 brings to the fore other new features worth mentioning. It calls out potentially malicious downloads in a more visible way, so you know when the browser is blocking you from downloading something dangerous. To the Windows 8 Metro mode, it brings the Chrome OS desktop launcher, making it easier to see Chrome Apps. However, there are several known bugs in Windows 8 Metro, including problems with the keyboardprofile switching and support on legacy computers that don’t have hardware acceleration. These problems do not affect the desktop mode.

Chrome 32 also offers an interesting option called Supervised Users, which allows the main Chrome account to offer sub-accounts. A supervised user can have his or her Web access restricted by site, and browsing activity can be monitored through a control panel.

Supervised users brings a helpful feature from Chrome OS to the main Chrome browser.
(Credit: Google)

Chrome 32’s security fixes included one fix that stops an unprompted sync with an attacker’s Google account, and another one that prevents address bar spoofing in Chrome for Android.

Chrome 32 has an unresolved conflict with Symantec’s Norton security software, including its toolbar.

Chrome’s new interface for Windows 8’s “Metro” mode also takes a cue from Chrome OS with its desktop launcher for Chrome Web Apps.
(Credit: Google)

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Chromebooks on a tear? Fear not: More horsepower coming

Chromebooks are finding a home in the education market. But as makers expand their lineups, the devices are expected to gain more processing power.


The lineup of HP, Dell, Toshiba, and Acer Chromebooks at Intel's CES booth.

The lineup of HP, Dell, Toshiba, and Acer Chromebooks at Intel’s CES booth.
(Credit: Brooke Crothers)

LAS VEGAS — As Chromebooks become more mainstream, they’ll gain more processing power to take on games.

Most Intel-based Chromebooks today come with Celeron processors — that’s a step below the low-end Core i3 processor.

New Dell and Toshiba Chromebooks — shown off at the Consumer Electronics Show this week for the first time — are both powered by Haswell, aka fourth-generation Core, Celeron chips.

While those processors, so far, have proved adequate for the low-cost laptops, that’s going to change later this year as the appeal of Chromebooks broadens and device makers expand their lines, according to a source at CES familiar with Intel’s Chromebook strategy.

Some Chromebooks will move up to Intel’s mainstream U series of Haswell processors, for example, the chip of choice for most Windows 8.1 ultrabooks.

That need will be driven, in part, by HTML5 gaming, which will require more horsepower than a Celeron can deliver, the source said.

The problem is, Celeron-based Chromebooks don’t use Intel’s higher-end Iris graphics silicon.

(An exception is the pricey Chromebook Pixel, which uses a mainstream Core i5 processor.)

So far, the Google Chrome OS-based laptops have been popular in the education market, but are expected gain traction in other segments where customers spend the majority of their time inside the Chrome browser, the source said.

report from the NPD Group last month showed the Google Chrome-based laptops grabbed about one-fifth of sales in commercial laptop channels — which the report said was largely shipments to educational institutions — in a 12-month period, up from virtually nothing the year before.

One reason for their popularity is price. They’re typically priced between $200 and $300. In addition, some organizations, such as those in education, only need Google services such as Google Docs and Google Drive, according to NPD.

The Dell Chromebook 11 will be available in January.

The Dell Chromebook 11 will be available in January.
(Credit: Dell)

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Best Laptops 2013

Finding the best laptop can feel overwhelming when you’re staring at a sea of brands and specs. That’s why we put each laptop we review through a bevy of tests that not only measure its performance, but answer the questions that matter most. Does the laptop have a comfortable keyboard? Is the screen colorful or washed out? And does the touchpad work reliably?

Even if it gets all the little things right, no laptop is right for everyone. Most shoppers opt for a notebook with a 15-inch screen. But if portability is your chief concern, you’ll want a 13- or 14-inch laptop that weighs less than 5 pounds. And if you want a machine for serious gaming, you’ll likely prefer a beefier system with powerful discrete graphics. Whatever your needs, we’ve identified the best laptop in each category to narrow your search.

Find the Best Laptop for You

By Avram Piltch, Online Editorial Director — Last Updated: December 3, 2013

The MacBook Pro 13-Inch with Retina display combines strong performance with long endurance and a best-in-class display. Starting at $1,299, this laptop provides an eye-popping 2560 x 1600-pixel Retina display with stunning colors that are good enough for artists and media mavens alike. A 4th-generation Intel Core i5 processor and blazing-fast Flash storage drive make the MacBook Pro with Retina display a speed demon, while a lightweight, 3.46-pound chassis and 9.5 hours of battery life let you carry it all day.

Starting Price: $1,299

MacBook Pro 13-Inch with Retina Display Review

Have an 18-hour flight to Asia coming up? No problem, if you’ve got the 12.5-inch Lenovo ThinkPad X240. With its extended battery, this 3.6-pound business system lasts more than 20 hours on a charge — the longest of any laptop on the market. With an optional 1080p touch screen, responsive keyboard, accurate TrackPoint pointing stick and speedy performance, the ThinkPad X240 helps you make the most of all those minutes.

Starting Price: $860

Lenovo ThinkPad X240 Review

Most hybrid laptops promise the best of both worlds but end up giving you a heavy tablet and a subpar laptop for more than the cost of both. However, the Dell XPS 12 stands out from the crowd by providing a gorgeous, 1080p display that flips backward within its bezel to turn this lightweight laptop into a 12-inch Windows tablet. Add in a comfortable keyboard, large touchpad and more than 9 hours of battery life, and Dell has a winner.

Starting Price: $799

Dell XPS 12 Review

The very definition of sleek, the 3-pound, 0.5-inch-thick Aspire S7 features a stylish, all-aluminum unibody chassis with a white glass lid. The 10-point touch , 13-inch, 1080p screen provides vivid blues, yellows and greens at a very-high brightness level of 329 lux. An Intel 4th-generation Core series CPU and SSD provide strong Windows 8 performance. Plus, a huge 6,280-mAH battery provides nearly 9 hours of endurance.

Starting Price: $1,299

Acer Aspire S7 Review

Who says touch screens have to be expensive? For just $399, the 11.6-inch HP TouchSmart 11z provides a responsive touch screen that helps you make the most of Windows 8 / 8.1 in an attractive, 3.4-pound package. With more than 6 hours of battery life, this affordable portable will have you pinching and swiping for most of a day.

Starting Price: $399

HP TouchSmart 11z Review

Lenovo’s ThinkPad T series line of business laptops have long been known for their powerful performance, long battery life and superior usability. The 14-inch ThinkPad T440s builds on that rich tradition, offering a gorgeous, 1920 x 1080-pixel touch screen; a durable, MIL-SPEC-tested design; and the most responsive keyboard on the market. With more than 14 hours of endurance with the extended battery, this lightweight powerhouse lets you get your work done in style, anywhere at any time.

Starting Price: $1049

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s Review

If you don’t need the full power of Windows or Mac OS X, the Acer C720 Chromebook is a great choice. Running Google’s browser-centric Chrome OS, the $199 laptop provides solid performance that’s more than good enough for surfing the Web or using online applications such as Google Drive or the Pixlr image editor. At just 2.6 pounds, this 11.6-inch laptop can go anywhere and lasts a solid 6 hours and 25 minutes on a charge.

Starting Price: $199

Acer C720 Chromebook Review

Who needs a home theater when you can have the ultimate media laptop? The ASUS N550JV’s gorgeous 1080p IPS, 10-point touch display provides bright images and wide viewing angles. It can also bend backward a full 180 degrees. A quad speaker array with a subwoofer and Waves MaxxAudio provides thumping bass at loud volumes, while an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M graphics chip gives the system enough oomph to play taxing games such as “BioShock Infinite.”

Starting Price: $999

ASUS N550JV Review

Apple’s refreshed 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display is ideal for graphics professionals or anyone who needs a notebook with equal doses of speed and endurance. This 4.5-pound juggernaut packs Intel’s latest quad-core Core i7 processor, blazing PCIe solid state storage and Nvidia GT750M graphics, making quick work of any task-or multiple tasks at once. Plus, you still get an eye-popping 2880 x 1800-pixel display. With the 15-inch MacBook Pro, your high-res videos and photos will look fantastic, and you can edit and transcode in the blink of an eye. Add about 9 hours of battery life and you have the best mobile workstation money can buy.

Starting Price: $1,999

Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch with Retina Display Review

Alienware laptops have long been the gold standard for portable gaming, and the current-generation Alienware 17 shows why. In our tests, the laptop’s high-end Nvidia GTX 780M graphics and 2.7-GHz Intel 4th Generaiton Core i7 CPU were powerful enough to play “BioShock Infinite ” at 106 fps and “World of Warcraft” at 144 fps. Alienware’s sci-fi-inspired design and customizable keyboard, grille and touchpad lights make the 17 as exciting to look at as it is to use.

Starting Price: $1,499

Alienware 17 Review

If you’re looking for a lightweight, touch-friendly notebook that lasts all day on a charge and won’t break the bank, you’ll find it in the Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch. The 14-inch, 4-pound laptop features a sharp, 1600 x 900-pixel touch screen; a speedy Intel 4th-generation Core i5 processor; and more than 8 hours of battery life.

Starting Price: $628

Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch Review

Chromebooks surge at business in 2013, researcher says

Google Chrome OS-based laptops accounted for 21 percent of all notebook sales through commercial channels, according to NPD Group. That’s not good news for Windows PCs.

by  December 27, 2013 6:48 PM PST

The Dell Chromebook 11 will be available in January. (Credit: Dell)

Chromebooks grabbed about one-fifth of the commercial laptop market in 2013, up from virtually nothing the year before, according to NPD Group. On the flip side, Windows device sales, with the exception of tablets, have been “tepid” this year.

The sales of Google Chrome OS-based laptops accounted for 21 percent of all notebook salesthrough commercial channels year to date through November 2013, the largest share increase across the various product segments, NPD said in a report this week.

If that isn’t proof enough of Chromebooks’ rise in popularity, Amazon said Thursday that among laptops, the Samsung Chromebook, Asus Transformer Book, and Acer Chromebook were“holiday best sellers.”

The above comes on the heels of a forecast earlier in the month showing Chromebooks taking about five percent of total laptop salesin 2014. All of this isn’t good news Windows PC sales.

“Tepid Windows PC sales allowed brands with a focus on alternative form factors or operating systems, like Apple and Samsung, to capture significant share of a market traditionally dominated by Windows devices,” said Stephen Baker, an NPD analyst, in a statement.

Traditional PC makers are responding by bringing out new Chromebook models. Dell, for instance, will offer its first Chromebook in January for the educational market, where Chromebooks have been particularly popular.

The world’s largest PC maker, HP, is also putting more emphasis on Google’s Chrome OS andAndroid. HP sells both the Chromebook 14 and the Chromebook 11. Note: HP is selling its Chromebook 11 again after recalling chargers back in November.

And count Android tablets — which grew 160 percent — among the big sellers too.

Chromebooks and Android tablets collectively had the biggest impact on sales growth, “with 1.76 million units going through the channel from January through November of this year, compared to just 400,000 units in 2012,” NPD said.

There was, however, some positive news for Windows. Sales of tablets running Windows nearly tripled “off a very small base,” said NPD.

Total commercial channel sales. (Credit: NPD Group)

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Plex for Chromecast: new clues hint at imminent launch

by  12 HOURS AGO
SUMMARY: Media center app Plex could be coming to Chromecast soon: A recent version of Plex’s server software already includes a Chromecast configuration file.

One of the most-requested features for Google’s Chromecast streaming stick has been support for local file playback, and it looks like Chromecast users won’t have to wait much longer: Media center app Plex could get support for Chromecast very soon, as traces of Chromecast code can already be found in Plex’s software.

A Reddit user first spotted a file called Chromecast.xml in a recent version of the Plex Media Server software this week. Upon closer inspection, it looks like the file is one of a number of device profiles that the software uses to determine whether it has to transcode a video file before streaming it to a media player. I asked the makers of Plex about it, but haven’t heard back.

chromecast plex profile

The Plex team has long hinted at Chromecast support, but kept quiet on details, with a spokesperson only telling me back in July that the company was “actively investigating and optimistic.” However, Plex has since taken steps to support DIAL, the multiscreen protocol that is at the core of Chromecast and that could be used to add the ability to control Plex with your phone to other platforms as well.

For its part, Google seems to be gearing up to allow more apps on Chromecast. The company is hosting a hackathon this weekend to preview the Google Cast API, which developers will be able to use to build their own apps for the platform. Google also just announced a firmware update for Chromecast that includes a “refreshed home screen,” hinting at further changes ahead.

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