SiliconFilter

What to Expect from Firefox in 2012: SPDY, Quiet Updates, Better Web Apps

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Last year, Mozilla managed to get Firefox back on track. While the long delay of Firefox 4 gave competitors like the up-and-coming Google Chrome a chance to gain quite a bit of market share, Mozilla adapted to the changing environment and switched to a Chrome-like rapid-release schedule that is focused on releasing a new version every six weeks. Given these short release cycles, it's good to keep the larger picture in view sometimes and, thankfully, Mozilla today provided us with a nice overview of what we can expect from Firefox for the rest of the year.

The organization has discussed most of these plans before, but it's good to take another look at what's in store for the popular browser.

A SPDYer Browser

Among the highlights Firefox's users can look forward to is default support for Google's SPDY protocol that speeds up the communication between your browser and web servers. In the current version (11), SPDY is not enable by default, but you can turn it on by browsing to about:config and doing a search for spdy.enabled.

In addition, Mozilla also plans to turn on HTTP pipelining by default. This allows the browser to download different elements of a site in parallel, which should speed things up, especially for sites that don't yet support the SPDY protocol.

Silent Updates

Mozilla also plans to bring silent updates to Firefox. This means, you will never have to see another update dialog again. Instead, Firefox will just update itself automatically, just like Chrome currently does. The development team plans to launch this feature in version 13.

Better Web Apps

As for web apps, Mozilla wants to integrate them more deeply into the browser. This means support for Mozilla's online app store, which is scheduled to launch later this year, but also a lot of work on the backend, including support for Mozilla's identity solution, an install process for web apps and the ability for apps to run in the background.

This, of course, is only the tip of the iceberg. You can find a full list of the features Mozilla has planned for this year here.



9:34 am


6 Million Downloads Later, Microsoft Photosynth Goes Global

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Photosynth is, without doubt, one of Microsoft's more impressive mobile apps. The app lets you snap panorama pictures with your iPhone and then upload them to Photosynth.net (and you can even get them featured on Bing Maps). While the mobile app doesn't give you quite as many features as the web app – which allows you to stitch together 3D panoramas by combining images from multiple perspectives – the app has proven to be quite a hit.

According to Microsoft, 6 million iPhone users have downloaded the app so far (though, as usual, it's not clear how many active users there currently are). More importantly, though, the company also today announced that Photosynth is now available worldwide (iTunes link).

Also new in the latest version is a tighter integration with Twitter (via iOS5's built-in Twitter capabilities). 

In case you are unfamiliar with Photosynth, here is Microsoft's description of the app's capabilities:

Capture Full-Sphere Panoramas: Look and capture in all directions more easily than what most of us can do with DSLRs and point-and-shoot cameras.

View immediately: With fast On-Device Processing, you can see the final panorama in a few minutes, without requiring an internet connection or data plan.  Very handy for those impromptu panoramas and immediate gratification that you captured the perfect shot. 

Save locally and on the cloud:  Your panoramas saved on your phone can also be saved and viewed online at http://photosynth.net.

Share immediately:  Share your panorama immediately via Twitter, Facebook or Bing Maps.

View in browser or app: Zoom, pan, and rotate your panorama in any direction through the Photosynth app or through the mobile browser.



11:31 am


Google Introduces a Priority Inbox for Your Documents

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Google Docs just announced a user interface overhaul of its documents list. This new interface makes it easier to organize and find the documents you upload to Google Docs. Google introduced a set of filters that now allow you to organize your files by type, visibility state (whether you shared it online, with friends, etc.), last modified date and, of course, by name.

In addition, Google Docs can now organize files by priority – similar to Gmail’s Priority Inbox. Just like in Gmail, this new feature looks at a number of signals to evaluate how important a file is to you and moves the most relevant documents to the top of your list.

Google Docs priority-1.jpg

Google Docs now also features a preview pane that shows thumbnails of your documents and some basic information about them. Next to this, Google also renamed “Folders” to “Collections.” Files, according to the company, can “live in multiple collections.” All of this culminates in the new “Home” screen that allows you to quickly access the documents you access the most often.

Another welcome new feature that makes the web app even more like a desktop app is that you can now use your Shift or Control keys to select multiple files.

The refresh will be rolling out over the next few days. For Google Apps for Business users, the roll-out will take a bit longer if your administrator hasn’t enabled pre-release features for your company.

Google Docs_new_list-1.jpg



12:47 pm