Latest Google Chrome Build Now Supports Speech Input

The latest stable release of Google’s Chrome browser features speech input through HTML. What this simply means is that you can now translate your voice input into other languages using Google Translate right in the browser.

So for instance, you can “if you’re translating from English, just click on the microphone on the bottom right of the input box, speak your text, and choose the language you want to translate to. In fact, you can even click on the “Listen” feature to hear the translated words spoken back to you!”

This feature is available on the Chrome stable channel across Windows, Mac and Linux. If you aren’t using Chrome yet, you can grab a copy from here.

4 Must Have Firefox 4 Addons

Confession is good for the soul, and here’s mine: Firefox 4 rocks. I’ve not been the most friendly of Firefox users in the past given how much resources it gobbled and how heavy it felt relative to Chrome/Chromium. However, with over 95 million downloads since its release, I humbly concede that Mozilla finally got it with Firefox 4. I’ve since then switched back to it as my primary browser. As an icing to the cake, the following 4 addons are a must have for any Firefox 4 user.

F1
I’m left wondering why it took so long to be implemented in any browser, but at least Mozilla did it. F1 is simply a Firefox 4 addon that makes link sharing to the various social networking sites a piece of cake. It resides in the address bar and all you have to do to share a link is click on it to be given the option of which social networking site you want to send the link to. Simple as that. 

Copy Short URL
This addon makes shortening urls a piece of cake. Simply install it and right-click on any page whose url you want shortened and hoose the “copy short url” from the context menu. Simply as that. The shortened url is copied to your clipboard.

ScribeFire
If you are writer or blogger, and particularly a Blogger user, then Scribefire is a must have addon. It’s simply a full featured blog editor that integrates well into Firefox to give you a great writing experience. You can post to blogs from WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, Windows Live Spaces, Tumblr, Posterous, Xanga, LiveJournal, or any other blog that supports the MetaWeblog or MovableType APIs.

You can edit and update existing posts. You can schedule posts for the future (if your blog allows that). You can delete posts. You can save drafts. You can tag and categorize.

ScribeFire Next has an interface so simple that even a caveman could use it. Anything you’re working on is saved if you close the editor and restored when you come back. It really is the easiest way to update your blog.

Integrated Gmail
A Firefox Addon that allows you to make the Inbox Collapsible and load your choice of Google Calendar, Reader, Notebook, Groups, Maps, Picasa, Sites, News and Portfolio seamlessly into the gmail interface with the inbox (rather than a separate tab or in the sidebar) using a collapsible box.

It even supports custom URLs (with navigation buttons) and Google Gadgets (including Remember the Milk.) If your are inbox minimalist, you can enable minimalist mode to clean up the inbox even more. Works with Google App Accounts and Gmail Themes.

So far these are the four main addons that have made my Firefox 4 even more enjoyable. As and when I discover some more awesome addons, I’m going to share with you. But once again, Firefox is almost t

Your Internet- Should Internet Explorer Get its Way!

I have always had a certain mistrust of Microsoft, not just because it is too “evil” but also because if it had it’s way, it’d cripple the entire internet as we know it. Should you wake up tomorrow and realize Internet Explorer 9 has now annihilated both Firefox and Google Chrome, this is how your internet would look like.
First off all sites will only display a message telling you how you need to view it via IE9. Then when you hop over to download IE9 and are unfortunate to be using XP, you’d be told to switch to 7. That will require you to shell out some cash. With XP still being the dominant OS version out there, that would mean heaps of upgrade cash for Redmond.
If you need one more reason to use a better browser like Firefox or Google Chrome, it is that IE must be denied the majority share at all cost. In any case, of what good is that browser other than to fire it up to download a better one?

ExtensionFM- A revolutionary Google Chrome extension for music lovers

For music lovers, nothing beats an easy way to locate and download free MP3 files while you surf the internet. ExtensionFM for Google Chrome does exactly that. While you wander around the internet, it sits quietly in the background and catalogs all links to MP3 music that you come across.
Clicking on the ExtensionFM icon in the far right of your address bar opens it in a new tab with a beautiful interface just like any other music player. It has two tabs in the upper left corner namely Queue and Library. The queue tab comprises songs you are currently streaming (right in your browser) and the library tab contains links to all free MP3 files you stumbled upon during your internet surfing activity.
You also have the option of creating an account, a process that takes less than a minute and requires no email confirmation to have your lists and everything synchronized across multiple computers. At any given time, a cursory look at the extension icon tells you how many MP3 files the addon has gathered and are available to you for download.
This extension is way too cool for me to amply describe here. The best way to take it for a spin is to have it installed. You’d be more than happy you did. I also do believe that this extension gives us a sneak peak at how Google is going to handle music streaming in its up coming Chrome OS. It’s also worth knowing that native support for PDF files is coming to Chrome very soon.

Native PDF rendering coming to Google Chrome

In line with getting the Chrome OS ready for shipment in the last quarter of this year, Google has been adding more features to Chrome, its base browser for the Chrome OS. Tonight on the Chromium blog, a new feature addition is the ability to render PDF files directly in the browser like any other webpage.

“PDF files will render as seamlessly as HTML web pages, and basic interactions will be no different than the same interactions with web pages (for example, zooming and searching will work as users expect).”

This and other developments on the Chrome browser makes me rethink my earlier views of what the Chrome OS is. More importantly, functions and features like this seem small, but added up, they become great factors in wooing people away from other browsers and winning Chrome more market share. Not to mention being a big threat to the now obese Firefox.
They warn however, that advanced PDF features will still require a separate launch of Adobe Reader.

“Currently, we do not support 100% of the advanced PDF features found in Adobe Reader, such as certain types of embedded media. However, for those users who rely on advanced features, we plan to give them the ability to launch Adobe Reader separately.”

They are however working with the Adobe Reader team to get all those features to work natively in the browser via the “next generation browser plugin.

Firefox- A browser in danger?

The third version of Flock, the popular social media centric browser is in beta. Well, not just an ordinary beta. This time around, it is based on Chromium, the Open Source implementation of Google’s Chrome browser. This is a very interesting and important development with regards to Firefox which had always been the base for Flock since it first debuted back in 2007. 
The latest beta release spots some very impressive features such as real time search of what your friends are talking about concerning your search query and the easy way in which URLs can be shared and discussed with friends on the various social networks. 
This move away from Firefox comes right after recent news that the netbook edition of Ubuntu 10.10 will have Chromium as the default web browser, also replacing Firefox. Other Linux distros like Lubuntu also ship with Chromium as the default browser. Hitherto, Firefox had had absolute exclusivity on Linux desktops. Now all that seems to be changing, albeit gradually.
Looking at these developments, one cannot help but ask the question, is Firefox an endangered browser? Better still, has the phenomenal growth of Firefox become its own Achilles’ heel? Has the browser grown too ‘fat’ such that it is becoming obese? Only time will give answers to these questions and more. 
But one thing remains certain, unless the Mozilla Foundation restructures the entire Firefox development process, together with its massive ecosystem (especially the plugins), the Fox will have a bleak future. The long time strength of Firefox, being its addons, is also being eaten up by Chrome at an alarming rate. 
There have been suggestions as to how Firefox could maintain its position as the second most used browser, including the Mozilla Foundation having to fork the browser itself to compete head on with Chrome. Also a point made by ZDNet’s Dana Blankenhorn resonates loudly with the current way addons are handled by the Foundation. He states 
While Firefox acts like a typical open source project, listing whatever comes in, working with everyone, Chrome acts more like a proprietary outfit, strategically. This is a key difference between Google and most open source companies. Most are looking to build an ecosystem however they can get one. Google can be more careful.”
I’d not love to read someday how Firefox was once a formidable browser. It has played an important role in shaping the browser market, this is not the time to see the beginning of its decline.

[VIDEO] Google I/O 2010 – Developing web apps for Chrome Web Store

Last month, Google held its I/O gathering at which it unveiled lots of things it’s working on. Among them was a web store for web apps, not so dissimilar to the Apple App Store or Android Market. If like me you had no way of being there but would like to hear Google’s plans for its Chrome browser and upcoming OS from the horse’s own mouth, then check out the embedded video below from Youtube.

The Google Chrome bookmarks sync really sucks!

Google Chrome now ships with a bookmark synchronization feature that keeps your bookmarks and preferences in sync across various computers on which you have the browser installed. This feature would have been really cool if it were anywhere near Firefox’s Sync or Weave feature.
With the latter, all your history, passwords, bookmarks, form data and everything is synced. Get to another computer with Firefox running (with the Weave addon of course) and you need not type much to get going.
Not so the Chrome bookmark sync. All it does is sync my bookmarks, preferences and theme. I can do all those. I want to have my history and other stuff synced as well Google! I don’t like to retype all my passwords and usernames again. Just follow me with my browsing history including my tabs!
It is well known my recent sour affair with Firefox as I ranted here, here and here, but this feature still stands unrivaled and unbeaten. Google Chrome is still my primary browser both at home and the office. But it really would be nice to have more features added to the bookmark sync than what Google currently gives us.

Let Firefox check these annoyances

There is a lot of debate going on about the future of the Firefox browser relative to Google Chrome. Glyn Moody for instance is of the view that the Mozilla Foundation needs to fork the browser to have another one to compete head on with Google Chrome. It is not so impossible to envisage a gloomy future for Firefox should it be overtaken in terms of users by Chrome.
As an end user of both Google Chrome and Firefox, with the former now being my primary browser both on my Ubuntu lappy and XP box at work, I think there are certain basic annoyances that when checked, could go a long way to secure the future of Firefox as the dominant Open Source browser out there.
Add on management
This to me is a killer factor between which of the two browsers I use. With Chrome, when I want to install an add on, all I need to do is install it and it is immediately ready to use. No fuss. Now come to Firefox. Install the addon and it nags you to restart the browser for the changes to take effect. And unless you do, there is no way that addon will be available for you to use. It just should not be so.
Update Management
I wonder why Firefox does not auto-update addons I install but has to nag me so much to do so. If I have 10 addons installed, I always need to keep manually updating and restarting my browser to update them individually whenever there is an update for them. Can’t the browser spare me this and do it on its own? Or at least if I need to manually update my addons, then could I be spared the need to restart the browser?
Addon checks
Firefox out of the box is light and resource friendly, though still not as much as Google Chrome. The problem of Firefox has sometimes got to do with some addons. For whatever reason, some addons tend to needlessly hose the browser resulting in a high spike in CPU usage. I think more checks need to go into what kind of addons are submitted to the addon bank over at repository.
These are the three key annoyances I find to be make or break deals for Firefox. If it is to remain the dominant force it is today in the very competitive browser market, then it needs to check these downsides which are Chrome’s strengths. I really do like Firefox, but until these annoyances are checked, it will remain my secondary browser, used not as often as I do Google Chrome.