First Final Version of Vivaldi Web Browser Released

The Vivaldi Web Browser is considered by many to be the true successor to the popular Opera browser of yesteryear, before, in many people’s eyes, it lost its way. After months in development, ex-Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner has finally released the first full version of Vivaldi to the general public, which is packed with features that will enable power users to browse the web in a more efficient and customized way than before.

Some of the features that are crammed into Vivaldi include a number of popular Opera staples such as Speed Dial, which shows popular and favourited sites on new tabs, but also contains a number of brand new powerful options. Tab stacks, tiling, mouse gestures, sessions and browser panels are just some of the new tools that von Tetzchner and his team have developed for Vivaldi in order to make it a great choice for power users. If that wasn’t enough, due to being based on the Chromium project, Vivaldi supports Chrome extensions, so you can truly make it the browser you need.

Vivaldi 1.0 is available for Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux right now and although it is still early days to see whether the browser lives up to its feature list in practice, it is nice to see a browser willing to add more features instead of being stripped down and relying on extensions.

Microsoft Shows How Easily Chrome Extensions Can Be Added to Edge

Last month, Microsoft revealed that they had been working on the ability for their struggling Edge web browser to support the vast array of extensions that are available for Google’s Chrome. At an Edge developer summit earlier this week, Microsoft showed off just how far this technology had come already, with many popular Chrome add-ons being able to be made Edge-compatible with a simple change to one or two lines of code.

Edge’s support for extensions is already implemented, at least in the beta versions of the software that have been made available to Microsoft Insiders. Currently, Microsoft has around eight add-ons available for their browser, including the popular ad blockers, AdBlock and AdBlock Plus, which may be the ad blocking that Microsoft plans to implement in Edge. Currently, all Edge extensions must be manually side-loaded into the browser, but will be available through the Windows Store when fully released.

According to Rory Fairweather, a program manager working on Edge, extensions have been the most requested feature for Edge since its release alongside Windows 10, especially as they are a popular feature that many other browsers have had for many years. The amazing thing about Edge’s extensions is just how easy it is to port existing Chrome extensions to Edge instead of having to develop a version especially for Microsoft’s browser. Developers will be able to employ a tool from Microsoft to convert their extension, or, like Fairweather, change a couple of lines of code. This is possible due to Edge having equivalent addon APIs to its rival browsers, but will also have potentially powerful APIs that are exclusive to it including icon changing, cross-component messaging and networking.

Whether this will bolster Edge’s market share and pull lost users back to Microsoft’s browsers is hard to tell as many still see Edge as just the same as the often infamous Internet Explorer. At the very least, it is impressive to see how far Microsoft have gone to make it easy for extension developers to develop for their browser alongside others, as well as encourage the developers of existing apps to support Edge as well through an easy conversion process.

Get a Sneak Peak at Chrome’s New Material Design Makeover

It is no secret that Google is planning to polish the UI of their popular web browser, to bring it in-line with the company’s material design aesthetic. As it turns out, the facelift could be here sooner than thought, with the latest stable version of Chrome featuring several optional features that allow some of the tweaks to be enabled early.

The changes aren’t drastic, with the majority of the browser’s minimalist UI being very similar. Overall, icon borders have been thinned down and the bookmark icons have been switched from their old yellow ‘folder’ look to plain gray icons. The old ‘hamburger’ button used to view the menu has also been switched to 3 vertically arranged dots with a more dynamic visual when opened and closed. The address bar has also seen a reduction in its font size, along with a darker, more obvious icon for sites being securely accessed via HTTPS.

Other parts of the browser have taken more significant changes, looking far more similar to the Material-style interface used in the Android operating system. The downloads menu separates each download as a card, with more obvious links for showing the download’s location and an ‘X’ button being present to remove the card. The settings menu’s overhaul brings in new fonts and colour to the page, with all of the settings being present on one page and links allowing the user to easily find the correct section. The toggle buttons and drop-down menus will also be instantly familiar to an Android user. Chrome’s PDF viewer has also been a part of the overhaul, with a new top bar and a set of circular buttons, both of which remain hidden until mouse movement towards them occurs.

To try out these changes for yourself, head to chrome://flags in the browser and set the following drop-down boxes to Material: “Material design in the browser’s top chrome,” “Enable material UI for PDF,” and “Enable Material Design downloads.” Meanwhile, the preview for the Material Design settings menu can be found at chrome://md-settings.

While these changes to Chrome are still in development and thus, still subject to change, it is nice to see Chrome home getting a facelift after so long. These aren’t the only changes planned for Chrome either, with a dark theme for incognito browsing, similar to that of the mobile version and a new video player interface. All of these changes and more could be ready to go live for as soon as Chrome 50, only two stable versions away.

Brave – The Browser That Blocks All External Ads

Created by Brendan Eich, co-founder and ex-CEO of Mozilla, yesterday revealed the new “Brave” browser, which disables all online ads and their associated tracking. This may sound too good to be true for users of ad blockers, and in a way, it is.

The crucial selling point of the Brave browser is to fight the privacy concerns raised with typical online ads, but replacing them with their own served ads. While this may just seem like trading one evil for another, Eich argues that Brave addresses the privacy concerns raised by targeted ads and those used to track users. Instead, all of Brave’s advertisements are anonymous and served from a private cloud in response to the browser’s requests, which share no user related information beyond there being an ad space to fill. Eich believes that websites that serve ads to their users in exchange for content cause an agency dilemma, making decisions for their users. Brave solves this issue as Brave users knowingly view their ads and do not have their data unwillingly shared.

The Brave browser is currently in version 0.7, meaning it is still an incomplete product aimed for use by developers and early adopters, a final launch date is yet to be determined. Brave is available for both Windows and Mac OSX as well as a mobile version for Android. Interestingly, despite Eich’s background with Mozilla, the desktop versions of Brave are based on Google’s open-source Chromium project.

Whether Brave’s appeal to privacy can win it a market share in the highly competitive browser market arena remains to be seen. With Eich’s strong credentials on the topic of the web, Brave could just be the next big thing with privacy becoming a more and more contested topic.

End of Life for Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10 on Tuesday

Internet Explorer has few fans amongst the tech community, with it’s blatant disregard for web standards and numerous security and privacy issues over the years. It has been some time in the works, but Microsoft has announced that the ‘end of life‘ of these older versions of their web browser as of Tuesday.

The ‘end of life’ announcement comes with a patch to go live on the 12th of January, KB3123303, providing a few final bug and security fixes for the browser, as well as introducing a ‘notification feature’. This feature will inform users upon starting the software that they should update to either the last supported version of IE, 11 or the new Microsoft Edge browser for Windows 10. Those stubbornly wishing to stick to their current version of IE and enterprises that are yet to transition from the unsupported versions the notification can be disabled. Microsoft provided a step by step guide to this process, however, it does involve editing the registry, so the less experienced user may just be better giving in and updating.

In a way, it is surprising that support for Internet Explorer has lasted so long, with Microsoft demoting the browser to ‘legacy’ status last year and planning to end support for it’s older versions since 2014. Whether this move by Microsoft will drive the hundreds of millions of users of outdated IE users to update to 11 or make the jump to Windows 10 with Edge is debatable.  The move may just drive the users to competitor’s browsers instead of upgrading as their copy of IE becomes a security liability.

Chrome Canary Makes Safer Browsing Easier

In the modern age of fears over internet and browser security, it seems the only thing you can rely on is a little indication on your browser that the site you are connected to is who it says it is and that your connection is secure. But is this always enough? And do you feel that you know exactly how safe your browser and the personal details you may send through it are?

In the latest version of their Chrome Canary browser, the ‘nightly’ release channel for Chrome, Google has addressed this by adding a security panel to the browser. This security panel not just shows whether your data has been sent securely (eg HTTPS) or that the site you are connected to has a valid certificate, but it also allows you to verify the security of the many elements on the page. This means that a particularly security-conscious user will be able to check a whether a suspicious site they are on is secure, but additionally that the site does not hide hidden security flaws introduced by connected elements. It also has functions for developers, who can verify when making a secure site that it is in fact secure and any features relying on external resources do not compromise it.

As always with a nightly build, this feature is still in its early stages and there is still time before its implementation in the standard release channel for Chrome. If you don’t want to wait to check the security of sites you may visit, Chrome Canary can run alongside another install of Chrome, so it could be worth a download.

Mozilla Offers Up Firefox Support For Virtual Reality

The rising interest in virtual reality has led developers over at Mozilla, makers of the Firefox Web browser, to begin testing VR interfaces for Firefox.

It’s a strong move by Firefox to prepare for what is expected to become a booming market, as more consumers become familiar with VR.

The first Mozilla technical vision for the Web includes the following: Rendering Canvas to VR devices, rendering 3D video to VR devices, rendering HTML content, mixing WebGL-rendered 3D content, and receiving input from orientation and position sensors.

Here is what Vladimir Vukicevic, Firefox Web browser developer, said in a blog post:

“We are adding native support for VR devices to early experimental and builds of Firefox, so that Web developers can start experimenting with adding VR interactivity to their website and content.  This is only the first of many steps that we’ll be taking over the coming weeks and months.”

Trying to expand content to support VR will initially be a difficult process, but one that other Web developers outside of Firefox also are researching.

When most people currently think of VR, Oculus Rift – which was purchased by Facebook – is the most familiar name.  However, the market is rapidly accelerating, with other manufacturers expected to show off their own VR headsets.

Interested followers can sign up for the Mozilla VR discussion mailing list – and developers that want to experiment with VR on the web can download an early preview build.

Thank you to Vladmir Vukicevic for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Business Insider

Microsoft Is Looking To Rebrand Its Web Apps Into ‘Office Online’ Soon

There were rumors about Microsoft rebranding their Office Web Apps suite to Office Online, which does indeed make sense since it is an online service and the name is also not so complicated (for most) as the latter.

According to Ubergizmo, Microsoft has apparently posted the Office Online suite as a comparison product on their “compare” page, which means that the rebraded Office Online suite might be closer to launch. The Office Online suite looks to be next to other Office product offerings from Microsoft, such as Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University.

It looks like Microsoft Online could be the answer to its competitors, such as Google Docs, Spreadsheet, and so on, essentially a free Office environment which can help people build their presentations and documents on a web browser. Microsoft’s Office Web Apps has been available since 2010 but was not so known as Google’s alternative, therefore this might be the way Microsoft attempts to make people more aware of its product and make it easier to work with.

Beside the name change, Microsoft is also changing the name of the apps contained within the suite to make them more Office friendly. Therefore the applications will be rebranded to Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online, and OneNote Online. Also, Microsoft is said to make available a variety of templates to aid customers in their work.

A launch date has not been revealed yet, though Microsoft is likely to release the product soon based on the comparison availability on its website.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Ubergizmo