Archive for July, 2011

Chrome rises at IE’s expense; iPad makes a showing

July 1st, 2011
June 2011 browser share usage chart
Data from Net Applications; Chart by Stephen Shankland/CNET)

Prevailing trends in the rising and falling fortunes of Web browsers continued through June, with Apple’s iPad carving out a sizable slice of usage.

Google’s Chrome continued its ascent of usage, rising from 12.5 percent in May to 13.1 percent in June, according to Net Applications’ monthly tallies. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer dropped about the same amount, from 54.3 percent to 53.7 percent.

Second-place Firefox, from the non-profit Mozilla organization, continued to tread water, staying at 21.7 percent. Apple’s Safari ticked up from 7.3 percent to 7.5 percent, but Opera dropped from 2 percent to 1.7 percent.

Apple is a rising force in mobile browsing. Its iPad surpassed 1 percent of browser usage worldwide, Net Applications said.

Related links:
Rapid-release Firefox meets corporate backlash
IE9: Microsoft is back in the browser game
Chrome’s security overhaul begins with PDF plug-in

Globally, mobile phones and tablets surpassed 5 percent of browser usage. In the United States, it’s 8.2 percent. There, the iPhone leads with 2.9 percent, Android phones have 2.6 percent, the iPad 2.1 percent, and BlackBerry phones 0.6 percent.

Fractions of a percent are small, but given how many millions of people use the Web, each tenth of a percent represents a vast number of people in absolute terms.

IE9 continued its ascent, though more slowly.

IE9 continued its ascent, though more slowly.

Data from Net Applications; Chart by Stephen Shankland/CNET)

New versions are important for Microsoft and Mozilla in particular. The new Firefox 5, the first issued under a new and somewhat controversial rapid-release program, represented 2.1 percent of usage overall to 10.5 percent for Firefox 4. Although Mozilla is being more aggressive about automatically updating people to the latest browser, Firefox 5 has only been out for a week and a half.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9, released in March, climbed from 4.2 percent in May to 5.7 percent in June, a slower pace than before.

Microsoft prefers to look at its Windows 7 share of IE9 rather than the global share, since it considers Windows 7 a leading indicator of future trends. That’s true, though Web developers must reckon with the doggy older browsers, too–IE9 won’t run on Windows XP, which is still the most widely used operating system on the Web today. On Windows 7, though, IE9 achieved 21.8 percent share of usage in the United States and 15.6 percent globally.

Microsoft is ramping up its efforts to squeeze IE6–despised by Web developers–off the Net.

“The positive momentum in moving the world to a modern browser continues this month with IE6 and IE7 dropping a combined 0.8% share worldwide for the month of June,” said Roger Capriotti
director of Internet Explorer product marketing, in a blog post today. “We also have expanded our IE6 Countdown efforts with two more global sites going live this month. China, which represents the largest portion of IE6 share worldwide has launched a local site, and our team in Latin America has also released a local version of IE6 Countdown to help get people there to move to a modern browser.”

Updated at 3:51 a.m. PT with details about iPad and mobile browsing and other specifics.

Originally posted at Deep Tech

Thunderbird joins Firefox with rapid release

July 1st, 2011

Stability and bug fixes marked yesterday’s debut of Thunderbird 5, which like its better-known relation Firefox has adopted a rapid-release cycle. Version-number hawks will notice that Thunderbird 5, available to download for Windows, Mac, and Linux, has skipped version 4 entirely so it can keep pace with Firefox. The new Thunderbird also follows some of Firefox’s feature leads by incorporating version 5 of the Mozilla Gecko engine, supporting dragging to reorder tabs, and adding the in-tab add-on manager that launched in Firefox 4 back in March.

A view of Thunderbird Conversations.

A view of Thunderbird Conversations.


By and large, the Thunderbird 5 release is more about keeping pace than forging ahead. The highlights of the release are not ground-breaking. The program will launch faster, Mozilla said in a blog post, and the company has also streamlined the account creation wizard for faster e-mail setup. File size will now be included next to e-mail attachment icons, and plug-ins support RSS feeds by default.

Two platform changes include theme fixes for Windows 7 and Vista, while Thunderbird 5 has dropped support for PowerPC on Macs. This follows the end of PowerPC support in version 4 of Firefox.

Also of note are significant improvements to the Thunderbird Conversations add-on. This extension, originally known as Gmail Conversation View, gives Thunderbird a Gmail feel, with e-mail organized along subject threads instead of solely by time stamp. Conversations makes it easy for those who are queasy about using Google’s Web-based e-mail service to still get its unique management system.

Read the full changelog for Thunderbird 5 here.

Pokki: Serving the Web like bite-sized candy

July 1st, 2011

The beta version includes a small sample of Pokkies for your taskbar.

Screenshot by Eddie Cho/ CNET)

Let’s face it; your daily routine of checking Facebook, browsing RSS news, writing e-mails, sending tweets have evolved into quite the laundry list. Sweet Labs just released Pokki to sweeten up the task.

Pokki,  not to be confused with those delectable Japanese snacks, is a compact HTML5-based framework that allows users to view commonly used Web APIs in a pop-up shell.

As Web 2.0 continues to gain traction, companies are pursuing new ways to bridge the gap between the web app and the native desktop application. Sweet Labs has recognized that as simple and sleek these Web apps may be, many users still hold a strong bond with their desktop environment to run their applications. Many developers have already attempted to make the two worlds play friendlier, such as SeesmicAdobeand Mozilla. Sweet Labs, however, seems to be on the right track from an integrative and design standpoint.

Pokkis display feed updates in real time.

Screenshot by Eddie Cho/CNET)

Each Pokki resides in the taskbar. Clicking on a Pokki pops open a small window with the selected application. Although still in beta, Pokki includes limited numbers of popular apps like Facebook, RSS readers, Gmail, LivingSocial, and Twitter. Unlike a standard window application, Pokki’s pop-up windows can neither expand nor be moved.

Quickly view, add, and remove RSS news feeds on the fly.

Eddie Cho/ CNET)

In fact, Pokki feels very much like thumbing through apps on a smartphone: although it doesn’t quite offer the full, grandeur access to, say, Facebook’s social options or Gmail’s interface, it does pack the most critical functions into a compartmentalized design. Each icon displays a bubble indicating the number of updates or messages. Clicking on a feed or link opens up the respective app in a browser as well.

As the current release is still in beta stages, Pokki offers a sample model of what developers can do with the released SDK (I can already smell cloud-serviced music players brewing away).

What Sweet Labs has cooked up is a product that quickly feels native and strikes a nice balance between multitasking and simplicity. It’s already reduced the hassle of opening several tabs, logging into various accounts and tab-scrolling in my daily routine by integrating essential Web apps into bite-sized complements to my workspace.

If you have a sweet tooth for social networks, news, and daily bargains, come take a bite and try it out for yourself.

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