Google Chrome gets new iOS beta program

November 19th, 2015 | Edited by | software


Google is now letting iPhone and iPad users take a cutting-edge version of its browser for a spin.

Google is now letting iPhone and iPad users take a cutting-edge version of its browser for a spin. The company on Friday quietly launched a new Chrome for iOS public beta program, which leverages Apple’s TestFlight system to give users the chance to try out a new version of the browser.
Users can sign up by going to Google’s Chrome Beta page on their iOS device, and they’ll then be taken to a form where they can enter their name, email address and agree to Chrome’s terms of service. After that, Google will send an email to confirm their email address.


Opting into the beta program ought to give users access to a version of the Chrome app that will have features before consumers get access to them. According to a post by 9to5Mac, that includes a new app icon that takes advantage of the 3D Touch capabilities built into the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.
Users can press down hard on the Chrome beta icon and get a quick access menu for running a Web search and opening new tabs in both a standard browser window and Chrome’s Incognito Mode.
However, while it’s possible to put in your name for inclusion in Google’s beta program, it’s not clear how many people will actually get access to it. Apple now allows developers to test early versions of their apps with up to 2,000 people through TestFlight, and it seems like Google has already hit that cap. I applied to join the program with two different email addresses (one already associated with a TestFlight account, one not) and neither of them have been invited to join the beta.
Google may be taking in sign-ups and then weeding out inactive users in order to make room for other testers, but it seems like this program is likely going to be limited to an elite few, at least for the time being.
Like other beta software offerings, the Chrome beta isn’t designed to be the best option for people who want a bug-free browsing experience. Instead, the best people to take part in this testing will be those who want to try out the latest features and don’t mind a few rough edges.


Installing Linux on a Chromebook: What you need to know

September 26th, 2015 | Edited by | software


Installing Linux on a Chromebook isn’t difficult–if you know what you’re doing.

Chromebooks are more powerful than you realize already, but zooming around the web in Google’s browser is just the beginning of what Chromebooks are capable of.
Chrome OS is built on top of the Linux kernel, and you can install a full Linux environment alongside Chrome OS on your Chromebook. This gives you access to Steam and over a thousand PC games, Minecraft, Skype, and everything else that runs on desktop Linux.


ARM vs Intel

If you do plan on getting a Chromebook and using Linux on it, you should consider whether it has an ARM chip or an Intel chip.
ARM-based Chromebooks can use a full Linux environment too, but they’re cut off from a whole ecosystem of closed-source software designed for traditional x86-based PC chips—including Steam and all its games. If you’re planning on running desktop Linux, get an Intel-based Chromebook. You could even use Steam’s in-home streaming to stream games running on a gaming PC to a Chromebook. But this isn’t possible an on ARM Chromebook, as Steam only runs on Intel CPUs.

Developer mode

Installing Linux isn’t officially supported by Google. It requires putting your Chromebook into “developer mode,” which gives you full write access to the entire operating system. Outside of developer mode, these files are normally protected to preserve the operating system’s security from attack. So you’ll have to enter developer mode before you can start installing Linux—check the official wiki for instructions, which are device-specific.
This will boot you into recovery mode, where you can “turn off OS verification.” After that, you’ll be able to have full access to the entire operating system—though that freedom entails some minor headaches. You’ll have to press Ctrl+D or wait 30 seconds every time you boot. Your Chromebook will beep at you and bug you, providing a scary warning that the normal verification process has been disabled. This ensures it’s always obvious when a Chromebook is in developer mode.

Installing Linux

There are several ways to install Linux. For example, you could install it to an SD card and boot from there.
But the best way to install Linux is to install it alongside Chrome OS on your hard drive, despite the limited storage capabilities in most Chromebooks. This lets you run both Chrome OS and a traditional Linux desktop or terminal at the same time, switching between them with a quick keystroke. You can also bring that Linux desktop straight onto your Chrome OS desktop. This also means that Linux environment can use all the same hardware drivers provided with Chrome OS, ensuring good hardware support.
I recommend using Crouton for this. It will help you install Ubuntu or Debian alongside Chrome OS. While this isn’t officially supported by Google, it is developed by a Google employee in his spare time. After you enable developer mode, you’ll be able to open the integrated Chrome OS shell, download the installation script, and run it. It’ll install and set up the Linux environment. The Crouton webpage provides instructions on installing it.

Using your Linux environment

With Linux installed via Crouton, you can run a certain command to launch the Linux session and then switch back and forth between the Linux environment and Chrome OS desktop with Ctrl+Alt+Shift-Back and Ctrl+Alt+Shift-Forward. Again, check Crouton’s webpage for more instructions.
But rather than constantly switching back and forth, you’ll probably want to install the Crouton integration extension from the Chrome Web Store. This will give you a full Linux desktop in a window on your Chrome OS desktop so you can see everything at once without having to switch back and forth.

If you decide you’re done with Linux, you can simply disable developer mode and go back to the normal Chrome OS system state. You’ll be prompted to do this every time you boot your Chromebook. Doing this will erase everything on your Chromebook and set the operating system back to its clean, default state.


Google Play Music, Gmail Android apps both land helpful updates

September 22nd, 2015 | Edited by | software


Play Music gets gapless playback for streaming over a Chromecast, while Gmail includes hints of rich text formatting and deeper calendar integration.

Both Google Play Music and Gmail got a couple of nice updates this week that will have you listening with ease to your tunes and soon crafting better formatted Gmail messages.


With Google Play Music, version 6.0.1995S now supports gapless playback when streaming over a Chromecast. The changelog also indicates no more stoppage of playback between songs and if your phone turns off or you leave while casting.
Your phone will now send the playlist information to the Chromecast, which knows to pull it down from Play Music, according to an APK teardown by Android Police.
With Gmail, version 5.6 is mostly under-the-hood changes, though there are hints of more to come. The code reveals rich text formatting may be in the future, so you’d be able to add bold, italics, strikethrough, colors, and other changes.
The other code strings indicate some type of interaction with Google Calendar. Google can already add events automatically into your Calendar with services like Google Now, but perhaps more collaborative or more connected capabilities are coming.
Why this matters: The playback updates are pretty nice, as it’s pretty annoying when someone takes their phone with them to grab more drinks and the music stops. Music streaming is quite the competitive landscape right now, so Google needs to throw all it can at Play Music to get people to tune in.


Inbox by Gmail adds some extra smarts to the snooze button

July 25th, 2015 | Edited by | software


Google’s email app now looks at message content to predict just the right time to pop messages back into your inbox.


Inbox uses the data contained in your emails to help you organize. And today, it’s got a little better at it. Google’s Gmail app alternative now tries to predict when messages you snooze should return.
For example, if you snooze an email with a restaurant reservation, Inbox will offer to summon the message an hour before your dining time (see below).
Google is making the tweak on its own end, so no need to get an app update from the Play Store. Along with restaurant reminders, Google says you’ll see the new Snooze capabilities with package tracking updates, calendar invites, flight confirmations, hotel bookings, and rental car reservations.
The story behind the story: Most of the innovation around Gmail is taking place in Google’s Inbox app. Other Inbox tricks include automatic travel itineraries and message bundles, so you can banish them to the archive or trash instantly. Inbox is definitely worth a try if you get a lot of email or want Google’s help with timely reminders.


Google Play’s ‘Designed for Families’ selection is likely to go live at I/O conference

May 23rd, 2015 | Edited by | software



Google is giving Android developers a firm deadline for submitting apps and games they want to the new Designes for Families section of the Play Store.
The cutoff is May 28, just one day before the beginning of Google I/O. The developer conference is where Google makes announcements about new initiatives, so we’re expecting the new family-friendly app selection will get prominent play.
The email (pictured) reminds developers their apps must meet specific content ratings and other requirements in order to be included.

play store developer email
An email to Android developers details how to get apps ready for the Designed for Families selection. 

The story behind the story: Google’s Designed for Families program is an effort to showcase the kid-friendly apps and games in its Play Store. Making them easier to find could mean more downloads and in-app purchases, which is good for Google and the developers alike. The new effort may also help Google catch up to Apple’s App Store, which is regarded as having the best collection of educational and kid-friendly apps.


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