Chrome ‘OK Google’ hotwording extension sparks new privacy concerns, confusion (Update: Chromium team backpeddals)

Ok-Google-Voice-Search

Update: What’s that? Oh, just the smell of change. After initially standing firm on its implementation of the hotwording module and proprietary Google extension being automatically downloaded in new installations of the Chromium open source browser, a wave of criticism has led to the team pulling it out of Chromium 45 and onwards. The module that manages whether the hotword listening extension is enabled will be “disabled by default” and the proprietary technology that actually listens for “Ok Google” will not download. A member of the team says simply:

In light of this issue, we have decided to remove the hotwording component entirely from Chromium. As it is not open source, it does not belong in the open source browser.

The original story continues below.

It all started with a blinking LED light. Ofer Zelig wrote on his blog today about an odd case where the LED light on his computer, that turns on whenever the microphone or camera is activated, seemed to blink every few seconds or so while he was working on his PC. He investigated in the Windows Task Manager to look for any process that might be to blame – no dice. He shut down some suspicious processes that might have been causing it and says he didn’t have any malware installed, but still to no avail. Turns out, the culprit was none other than Google’s Chrome browser…

Read more

Latest Chromium build tests prompting users to install web apps for sites they visit often

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 10.52.44 AM

If you’ve been following the latest with Chrome for Android, you probably know that Google has been making a big push with web apps. In Chrome for Android beta 42, Google added banners that recommend users install web apps to their home screens, and in beta version 43, the Chrome for Android app now has banners that push native apps on users as well. Now, in the latest build of the Chromium—the open source project that is the basis for Chrome—browser, Google is testing banners suggesting that users add sites to their app shelf. Read more

Latest Chromium code carries references to the Google Nexus 6, Nexus 8

red nexus 5

Coming roughly a week after the Nexus 8’s “Flounder” codename was shown off in Chromium’s source code, we now have a reference to the “Nexus 6″ (via Florian Kiersch).

The Nexus 6 reference can still be seen on the Code Review page, under the new code section. There is also a reference to the Nexus 8 in the older code. The Nexus 8 is expected to be produced by HTC, as earlier leaks have suggested. The “8” is also likely a reference to the screen size, which would make the Nexus 8 larger than the ASUS-produced Nexus 7. Beyond this, very little is known about the specifications or ETA of the Nexus 8.

The Nexus 6 is also almost entirely a mystery. Read more

Google kicking toolbars, “multipurpose extensions” out of the Chrome Web Store

Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 8.27.17 AM

Google’s Chromium Blog just announced intentions of the search engine giant to knock out toolbars and “multipurpose extensions” out of the Chrome Web Store. The update to the policy is basically summed up as: “extensions in the Chrome Web Store must have a single purpose that is narrow and easy-to-understand.” That sounds simple enough, no?

Read more

Google rolling out better password security in Chrome to Windows users

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 11.06.39 AM

Google began tightening saved password security in Chrome for Mac almost one month ago. Now, it looks like Windows users will soon be able to join in on the fun. For the second time today, Google’s “Happiness Evangelist” Francois Beaufort is breaking the news. According to Beaufort, the “Reauthentication dialog for passwords” has been added into Chromium and is now ported over to Windows in the latest Chromium build.

Read more

Chromium-based Opera browser officially released

stash

Back in May, Opera released a ‘sneak peak’ of its latest browser, Opera 15. The big selling point behind it was the engine under the hood. For the first time ever, the browser was powered by Chromium rather than Opera’s classic Presto engine. Today, the company has officially released the browser for both Mac and Windows in its final state to the public.

The new Opera for Windows and Mac runs on a Chromium engine, so you can access all your websites in a blink of an eye and have a smoother experience when you get there, thanks to improved site compatibility.

The latest version of  Opera includes a host of new features in addition to the new Chromium engine. For one, the Speed Dial homepage has been refreshed with the ability to create folders and more. A new ‘Stash’ feature lets you collect snapshots of saved webpages in one place and go back and reference them if needed. The new Discover feature automatically shows you the top articles from locations and categories you choose. Finally, Opera says that the browser should perform better on slow connections thanks to the new ‘Off-road’ mode. Read more

Latest Opera desktop browser powered by Chromium – interesting Stash & Smartbox features

Opera has released what it describes as a ‘sneak preview’ of its latest browser, Opera 15, available for both Windows and Mac. As we reported last month, it is powered by Chromium rather than the Presto engine Opera had used for earlier versions.

While Opera is still a significant player in the mobile market, it has fallen out of favour in the desktop market, with a market share of just a few percent, well behind Chrome, IE, Firefox and Safari. Version 15 introduces a couple of new features that Opera hopes may change that … Read more

Latest Chromium build testing search box right on new tab page

google-chrome-illustration-logo-in-a-browser-window

The Chrome team has announced a new addition to the Chromium (beta version of Chrome) browser this afternoon, changing the way many users will search for content online via Google and other search engines. Google is testing/experimenting with an added search box to the new tab page, a page that has historically just listed recently viewed websites, and the new search box will not only include Google search but will also be accompanied by Yahoo, Bing and others. Google said the reasoning behind the change is: “we’ve found that many people still navigate to their search engine’s home page to initiate a search instead.”

Google is also allowing search engines to display what a user has searched for right in the omnibox, potentially doing away with a second search box on the actual search page. Additionally, Google has made a new Embedded Search API available so other search engines can implement what’s new. The features outlined today are available for testing from the Chrome Developer Channel that includes a select few Chrome OS and Windows users (Mac will be coming soon). Sadly, Mountain View gave no word on when the features will hit an official build.

Source: Chromium Blog

Read more

Google Docs to be changed to ‘Google Drive’

From some slides of an internal presentation given by Google, it appears that where there is now Google Docs, there will soon be ‘Google Drive’.  Most of the functionality, like uploading files of any type, of the mythical Google Drive now lies in Docs Hopefully, with this upcoming rebrand, Google allows more storage (let me buy it) and also has some utilities like backing up the home folder on Windows or Mac.  Seriously, what better way to get users to adopt your system than to offer to sych your files to the cloud.

Oh, now that we have all of your files, you might as well get a Chomebook.

Read more

WebKit-based Chrome (Chromium) port coming to Android soon

When we think of Google and browsers we usually think of the latest Chrome build, the fastest real world use desktop browser around. While the browser currently shipping on Android is nothing to sneeze at, Google’s real innovation in the browser space is arguably happening with Chrome. That’s why it’s surprising we haven’t heard more about a potential port of Chrome to Android, a project the Android team is now actively working on with the open source WebKit community.

Googler Andrei Popescu, along with a couple others working on the project, took to WeKit-Dev group today (via TechCrunch) to announce their focus on the port:

We would like to give an update about WebKit on Android. A while ago, we started the effort to upstream the Android port of WebKit. For a variety of reasons, this work took longer than anticipated and was never finished. We realize that the incomplete Android port that exists today in WebKit ToT has caused quite a bit of confusion and inconvenience to the project as a whole and we are very sorry for that.

In case you’re confused, the browser currently running on Android was originally based on the WeKit layout engine and Chrome’s V8 Javascript engine, but also varies from the desktop version of Chrome enough that two separate teams work on the two browsers.
Read more