Safari 4 Beta Available

Categories: Google Chrome WebKit


Hot off the browser press, Safari 4 Beta just released this morning (available to download here). First impressions: love the intro animation, almost like starting up an install of Mac OS X for the first time - I wonder if that’s hinting at the movement toward browsers playing a more central role in acting as your “operating system”?


I can’t help but wonder if Apple is purposefully taking a page from Google by putting Tabs at the top of the interface, or by having a page preview based view of your history (although in a slightly cooler, curved 3D wall than Chrome or Opera’s flat grid). Apple copying Google for UI design? Blasphemy!

The Coverflow style view when searching your browser history is also a nice touch. However, something I don’t like is that form elements and the search field no longer draw the glowing blue Aqua-style focus “rectangle”. This is probably in preparation for the Marble theme said to be coming in Snow Leopard.

Worth noting: On OS X 10.5, Safari 4 seems to have some trouble with Spaces, and switching to the appropriate space when in Top Sites view. It also closes the whole window when hitting Command+W in Top Sites view, regardless of how many other tabs you have open in that window.

PhoneGap - Write native apps for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry using JavaScript

Categories: Adobe AIR Frameworks iPhone JavaScript Objective-C RIA WebKit

From the site (

“PhoneGap is a development tool that allows web developers to take advantage of the core features in the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry SDK using JavaScript.”

PhoneGap essentially wraps a web view (WebKit on the iPhone) in a native app container, giving the web application access to core device APIs. This should go over well with the Adobe AIR crowd that’s already been sold on the idea of repurposing their web-based apps as “native” desktop apps, who are also interested in bringing that software to various mobile devices.

What will the programs created in this manner be called? Rich Internet Applications? Native Web Applications?

I’m a big proponent of web-based applications, but only inasmuch as they allow fairly ubiquitous access to data across devices. My biggest beef with web apps, though, is that they are much less responsive than native applications. Alright, let me rephrase that - a web application will always be inherently slower than a native app. I/O for the data model aside, a web app also has to contend with the fact that both its data and the presentation logic for the data must trickle over the wire or over the air (and then be rendered) before anything useful can be done with it. Native applications simply do not have to deal with the presentation waiting game.

So the scenario I see PhoneGap being used for is something like: provide as much presentation logic/code as possible in a local data store that gets installed with the app, and only download data for the user when necessary. Cache things that won’t change often. Use device APIs for storing user data locally and for things like geo location.

I’m excited about the prospects of using JavaScript (something fairly easy to pick up) to create “native” web apps for mobile devices. But I’m also aware that the speed, feel, and device integration of a true native app (especially if it gets its data from the web) will beat web applications in those same criteria for the foreseeable future.

Even Richer Internet Apps with Adobe AIR 1.5

Categories: ActionScript Adobe AIR Adobe Flex AS3 Flash WebKit

Adobe AIR logo

Adobe has just released Adobe AIR 1.5. Now you can take advantage of great features like Pixel Bender for custom filters and fills, the new 3D effects, dynamic video streaming (based on available bandwidth), and the Speex audio codec, aimed at providing high-quality audio delivery at lower bandwidth.

In addition to the existing Encrypted Local Store functionality in earlier versions of AIR, Adobe has now added encrypted local databases, which will make it easier to encrypt and locally persist large data sets.

Also, as a follow up to an earlier post on the use of SquirrelFish in AIR, Adobe has confirmed that this is indeed the case. Adobe AIR 1.5 has a WebKit update that incorporates SquirrelFish - Adobe claims that HTML-based AIR applications can run as much as 35% faster.

Download version 1.5 of Adobe AIR.

Developer and User release notes are available as PDF.

On a related note regarding the Flex Builder 3.0.2 update that takes advantage of the new AIR runtime: be sure to change the app.xml XML namespace to use 1.5 instead of 1.0, as noted on this blog -  I had trouble with my application until I found this post.

First impressions of Google Chrome beta

Categories: Google Chrome RIA Web Apps WebKit

I’ve just installed the brand-spanking-new Google Chrome beta (previous post), and I must say, I like the way the UI feels and works. The interface really allows you to focus on the site or webapp you’re using. Google pays homage to browsers like Safari, Opera, and Firefox in their introductory comic (, but my initial impression is that Google has done an incredible job of adapting and improving other’s implementations.

Now for some screenshots for those who’ve not yet installed it. The “Stats for nerds” link in the memory usage dialog box made me chuckle a little (third screen below). And notice that in the memory usage screen, Chrome shows memory utilization for other browsers (Firefox 3 is listed in the fourth screen below).


Chrome has insanely fast JavaScript execution via the V8 engine created by Google Denmark. See the Dromaeo results for Chrome (381.20ms - versus Dromaeo results for Firefox (1338.60ms - and Safari (1399.60ms - Of note there is that I have Chrome running in a virtual machine, VMWare Fusion, which means it could be even faster when running natively on the Mac.

While I haven’t necessarily put Chrome through its paces, I have gotten it to Sad Tab once so far - and it was while using Google Analytics. Maybe their test driven development process (mentioned in the comic) should have stuck closer to home awhile longer.

Chrome also seems to have trouble vetting its own Adsense site’s SSL certificate, but that’s probably related to my not having placed the www in the URL.

In all I’ve found Google Chrome to be an excellent browser thus far - it’s fast and stable, and integrated Google Gears is going to mean a much higher rate of adoption by developers. Time will tell if this is truly an early phase of the Google OS, but as web browsers go, Chrome is top-notch.

Google Chrome comic by Scott McCloud, SuperSite preview

Categories: Google Chrome RIA Web Apps WebKit

Google Chrome is a new web browser built on WebKit (the same HTML engine used by Apple Safari) designed from the ground up with web applications in mind. Security, speed, and stability in Google Chrome is paramount, with sandboxed tabs, the V8 JavaScript engine, and a multiprocessing architecture.

See the Wikpedia entry here:

Prior to the press conference being held at 18:00 GMT (GMT converter) where the beta will be announced, Google has released a comic about Chrome. In my opinion this is a really interesting way to generate buzz about a product.

Paul Thurrott, noted Microsoft and Windows pundit, has an early preview and his take on Chrome.