Archive for the ‘Browsers’ Category

Mobile Browsers getting better

December 14, 2011

After struggling for years with sub-par browsers on small screen devices Apple did a good job raising the bar with Safari on the iPhone and now iPad. Google for some reason stumbled a little out of the gate with the browser on Android – rather than take their existing and proven Chrome they delivered an older and less capable core and it looks like only now with the 4.x generation devices that they’re finally starting to improve things (though that doesn’t help the 80-90% of their existing user base who will never get an upgrade to the latest goodness)

With the initial release of Windows Phone 7 it seemed like Microsoft had fallen into the trap of not treating mobile browsing as a first class experience and they shipped an IE7-like browser. That changed however with the release of v7.5 “Mango” which brought the full capabilities of IE9 (arguably the most standard adherent HTML5 browser) to the platform.

With people paying more attention to the mobile browser evolution and digging into capabilities (such as this review from Sencha) and arguing that the mobile web is not going away any time soon it would be great to see how the "Mango" with IE9 stacks up in these tests against the other two… Would be great to see Sencha or similar run their tests against all three? So far playing around with IE9 in Mango, it seems to do a really good job in most situations but I’ve not drilled down to quite the level of detail that they have yet.

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a friendly bear to help with VPN tunnels

August 24, 2011

If you want to keep your internet traffic secure when using public WiFi or have a desperate need to pretend you’re in a different country to access an online service you’ve probably tried a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service like StrongVPN. As powerful as most of these services are they’re not exactly user friendly and for a casual user they can work out quite expensive.

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TunnelBear hopes to change that with an easy to install, easy to configure and, above all, easy to use app. It also starts at a pretty great price – Free!

Currently available for Windows and OSX (hopefully Linux and iOS to follow) it’s a simple install that delivers both the simple dashboard app and the network drivers needed for VPN support and then it’s a case of fire up the dashboard, decide if you want to appear as a UK or US user and hit the “on” button to switch your network connection over to using the VPN. You can change locations or de-activate the VPN just by tapping a button.

For free users you get a monthly allowance of 500MB which should be enough for simple casual needs (and they run promotions where you can bump that allowance up). If you need a bit more – in fact, unlimited bandwidth and double the level of encryption on your connection – then they have a “Giant” plan for US$4.99/mo – less than the price of a coffee at the Starbucks where you’d want to be running this.

Looking forward to seeing this for Linux so I can add it to my bootable USB Key solution.

Users don’t care about standards

January 8, 2011

HTML5. CSS3. Canvas. H.264 or Ogg for <video>

Web developers care. The folks who build browsers care (and boy are they competitive about it with their speed demos and compliance tests).

But users?

They don’t care about the technology. They want their game to run, their video to play and their photos of Aunt Bertha’s 50th birthday party to load.

Ask them what version of Flash or Silverlight they have, or even what a cascading style sheet is and they’ll give you a blank look. Heck, most don’t even know what browser version they’re running (with Chrome that’s becoming a challenge to keep up with updates!)

In fact, with sites like Facebook and Twitter, Bing and CNN or aps from the various app stores on Windows, Android and iPhones undergoing almost constant innovation and evolution users don’t have a good way to keep track of where things are.

So what does this mean for web developers? It means you need to write smarter code that tests for the features you need and degrades gracefully – on desktops, mobile devices, internet connected TVs and who knows what. Keep is as simple as possible and get the basics right.

And for users? Well, hopefully the new advances in capabilities will make for richer, faster, more capable apps, and better experiences. Hopefully this period of change won’t make for the troubles of the last “browser war” where users had to choose what browser they visited certain sites in, developers would post snarky “better with X browser” messages and nobody really wins.

Here’s looking for the next generation web … and hopefully smooth evolution without the pain of artificial revolution