WebKit 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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WebKit Stories May 5, 2012

This is a special guest post written by Steven Troughton-Smith. Follow him on Twitter or his blog.

When Google first showed off Android, the company showed it running on a device very similar to Blackberries or Nokia E-class devices of the time. This device was the Google Sooner—an OMAP850 device built by HTC with no touchscreen or Wi-Fi. This was the Android reference device…and the device Google originally built the OS on.

Recently, I got access to a Google Sooner running a very early version of Android. With all the recent information coming out of the Oracle vs. Google trial, I thought it would be interesting to take you on a brief tour of the OS. The build of Android this is running was built on May 15, 2007, which is four months after the iPhone announced. The first M3 version of Android announced in November 2007, and Android 1.0 did not come until a year later….

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Deal: Get Pixelbook at 25% off: $750!

WebKit Stories September 29, 2011

Amazon yesterday outed its Kindle Fire tablet, the lower-priced $79 Kindle and the new $99 Kindle touch. They also unveiled a brand new browser written exclusively for the Kindle Fire, dubbed Silk. There has been some concern among web developers about the browser’s rendering engine given how numerous web sites are optimized for the open-sourced WebKit rendering engine. According to a post by Mike Mainguy, a software architect with Lemans Corporation, the Silk browser does leverage WebKit as its rendering engine. Moreover, it also employs SPDY, Google’s optimized hypertext transfer protocol introduced in late 2009 as part of the search giant’s “Let’s make the web faster” initiative. It’s currently used in Chrome and now in Amazon’s Silk browser, too. Mainguy explains:

All told this isn’t as big a technological change at the front end and is more of a story about amazon trying to use their infrastructure to make the mobile browsing experience better.  Frankly, this is a scaled up and modernized version of what blackberry did years ago (are they still doing that?).

It appears that Amazon combined SPDY with Amazon Web Services to caches files and offload page rendering to the cloud, depending on workload. According to the Silk team:

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WebKit Stories August 23, 2011

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. expand full story

WebKit Stories June 3, 2011

WebKit – an Apple-developed, open-sourced rendering platform – is picking up steam on desktop. On laptop and desktop computers, WebKit-powered browsers are closing in on Mozilla’s Firefox, which is the world’s second most-popular browser. Look no further than Net Applications’ numbers derived by monitoring more than 40,000 websites in their network (see above chart). Adding May 2011 web usage share numbers for Safari (7.28 percent) and Chrome (12.52 percent) brings us to the combined 19.8 percent market share.

That’s just shy of one fifth of all desktop browsing, putting WebKit within spitting distance of Firefox’s 21.71 market share. Trends do not favor browser vendors who have been pretty much bleeding market share to Google and Apple in past months. Chrome and Safari have managed to grow their user base over the past couple of months at the expense of Mozilla’s Firefox, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Opera Software’s Opera. A StatCounter survey supports those findings (see below). Why is Mozilla failing?

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