blink Stories January 27, 2014

Google does U-turn on magazine-style web layouts in favor of faster browsing

Google has changed its mind about supporting an Adobe tool to allow magazine-style layout on web pages after deciding that the technology would have too great an impact on browsing speeds, reports CNET.

The technology, known as CSS Regions, allows text to flow around irregularly-shaped objects, as in the example above. Google had initially supported the project, part of a move by Adobe to bring Flash-style capabilities into native web standards, intending to incorporate the code into its Blink browser engine.

Google Chrome programmer Eric Seidel says that Adobe’s current approach has too great a performance hit.

I believe Blink’s focus this year must be on mobile and specifically mobile performance…I have come to understand that Regions both does not play well with existing performance optimizations [and] impedes ongoing simplification and optimization work to our core rendering code,” Seidel said about his reversal of opinion on CSS Regions. “Regions addresses some very real deficiencies of the Web platform. But I believe Blink (hopefully with Adobe’s help) will need to find other simpler/smaller ways to address these deficiencies.”

Another Google Chrome programmer echoed this view, stating that while magazine-style layouts were appealing, Google’s priority is maximising browser performance with web apps in mind.

blink Stories September 17, 2013

Virgin Mobile YouTube channel using eye tracking to change ads as you blink

Virgin Mobile is testing out an interesting new technology on its YouTube page that will allow users to quickly skip over ads by simply blinking their eyes (via GigaOm). Virgin is calling the feature “BlinkWashing” and using your computer’s webcam in order to track eye movement and change ads as you blink.

If you head over to the Virgin YouTube page, you’ll see a blink washing tab where you can configure the feature by allowing access to your webcam and running through a short calibration process. Once you’ve set it up, the page will allow you to flip through a number of different videos just by blinking.

It’s not clear what Virgin plans on doing with the feature, or if it will just be a gimmicky marketing tool to bring people to its channel. Blinking doesn’t seem to be the ideal method of changing a video or skipping an ad, as you’ll often find yourself activating the blink washing accidentally or forcing yourself not to blink in order to make through an entire clip that you actually want to watch. Of course, we could see other implementations of similar eye and head tracking features in the future: Think scrolling and pausing video with head movements, much like Samsung and others have implemented on smartphones in recent years.

blink Stories April 3, 2013

In a surprise announcement made at the Chromium Blog today, Google announced that Chrome OS, Chrome, and Opera will use a new rendering engine titled ‘Blink’. Blink is based of the current rendering engine WebKit. Google states the change is “not an easy decision,” but the change is necessary due to a ‘slow down of innovation.”

Google seems quite apologetic in the blog post, noting it understands the change may have significant implications for the web, but hopefully, in the long run, it will improve the health of the open web ecosystem.

It noted that the change will have little impact in the short-term to developers and Internet users, but Google hopes that the removal of the “multi-process architecture” will simplify the engine’s code and ease the difficulty required to develop for Chrome and Chrome OS. Ultimately, Google also hopes the new engine will speed up Internet load times.

The full press release via the Chromium Blog is available below.

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