Google Chrome is finally coming to Android phones and tablets. A beta is available for download now if you’re one of the lucky few already running Android 4.0/Ice Cream Sandwich (hence the asterisk* in the post title.) No word on when (or if) Chrome will come to other Android versions or become the operating system’s default browser.
In general the user interface looks very intuitive and clean, particularly the tab view and tab switching functionality. Chrome for Android will also reportedly bring improved performance and better rendering of pages. Plus if you’re signed in with a Google account you can sync things like tabs and bookmarks across devices (phone, tablet, and desktop.)
Get more information and some hands-on impressions over at The Verge.
Update: Chrome for Android won’t support Flash. From Adobe, “Adobe is no longer developing Flash Player for mobile browsers, and thus Chrome for Android Beta does not support Flash content.”
If you’re a web developer, I hope you’re not all partied out from your New Year’s celebrations because there’s an even better reason to celebrate: Internet Explorer 6 usage in the United States has now officially dropped below 1%!
It depends on the project, but there is often little reason to spend the time and money it takes to attempt to provide the exact same experience for users of a 10-year-old browser. Even Microsoft agrees supporting IE6 should be a “low priority.”
Last year was yet another huge one on the Web as things continued to move forward at a breakneck pace. The explosive growth of traffic from mobile devices influenced everything and meant huge advances in both technology and new ideas. Here are some of our favorite trends of 2011:
Responsive Design Goes Big Time
A responsive website uses fluid layouts, flexible images, and media queries to deliver an experience adapted for whatever width browser or device is being used. With the increasing number of mobile and desktop resolutions that must be accounted for, true responsive design solutions use CSS and media queries to flex to handle any width and adjusted layouts for popular breakpoints.
Coined by Ethan Marcotte back in 2010, responsive web design went all the way from unproven concept to misused buzzword in 2011. When the responsively redesigned BostonGlobe.com launched in September it signified loud and clear that responsive design wasn’t just for designer portfolio sites anymore. Responsive concepts can and should be considered for any new site developed in 2012.
Web typography has been something designers have been forced to struggle with from the earliest days of the Web. As a developer, reminding the design team that they need to choose a web safe font and their options are still just “Arial or Verdana” always results in dropped heads. No more. The ability to embed nearly any font you want using @font-face puts all the power and creativity back into the designer’s hands. Add to it CSS3 properties such as text-shadow and tools such as Lettering.js and FitText, and suddenly the Web is a more beautiful place.
A technology that was around long before 2011, embedding web fonts using @font-face exploded last year and saw some major advances as more type foundries licensed their fonts for web embedding. With more quality fonts available (and many available for free), most projects that MarketNet works on now end up including embedded fonts for headings or navigation elements.
Also in 2011, Typekit, an innovator and leader in hosted web fonts, was acquired by Adobe. The acquisition signifies broad support for @font-face and should mean the inclusion of Typekit capabilities in future releases of Adobe’s Creative Suite tools.
Internet Explorer 6 was released over 10 years ago and it’s lack of capabilities and bugs could still end up restricting a web project in 2011. Crazy, right? Fortunately a similar issue shouldn’t be able to occur again. Web browsers are finally updating as quickly as web technology and ideas are, and more importantly they’re doing it automatically without needing users to be savvy enough to know that they need to update their computers.
Google Chrome has been pushing out autoupdates for a while now (and still does it the best), but in 2011 the teams behind both Firefox and Internet Explorer announced they would be doing the same. Now on an aggressive six-week release cycle, Firefox went from version 4.0 to version 9.01 between April and the end of the year. In December, joyous noises were heard from developers across the globe as Microsoft joined the party with the news that Internet Explorer all the way back to Windows XP would now autoupgrade to the latest available version.
What new tech will be out in 2012? Will Google TV or the rumored new Apple TV set make an impact? How will Android Ice Cream Sandwich influence mobile design? Mobile will continue to grow and will influence many companies to target mobile first when launching new projects.
It’s a new year and that means it’s time to reflect on 2011 and set resolutions for 2012.
Here at MarketNet, the resolutions we’re focused on for the new year are 1280×800, 1366×768, 1280×1024, 480×320, 320×480, and good old 1024×768. Oh and also 1440×900, 1920×1080, 1680×1050, 800×600, 2560×1440, and 480×360. And 320×240. Those are just some of the hundreds of different screen resolutions of visitors to this blog. In the top 10 alone the widths range from 320 to 2,560 pixels.
Still think your 995 pixel wide site is the best experience for every visitor? How well does your primary messaging come across when viewed zoomed all the way out on a mobile phone? And what kind of new experiences could you be delivering to people taking advantage of a beautiful 27″ high-res monitor?
Some huge technology announcements from Amazon today as they introduced three new Kindle devices, a new $79 Kindle, the Kindle Touch, and the Android powered Kindle Fire tablet. As a web agency, the most interesting device is the new 7″ tablet. So far the iPad has largely been the only tablet to capture enough market and mindshare that it is even considered during the design and development of new web sites. With the Kindle Fire’s low price ($199) and Amazon’s ability to slap it front and center everyday on the homepage, the tablet has a strong chance to make a significant impact.
Equally interesting is the announcement that the Kindle Fire will feature a cloud-accelerated web browser called Silk that splits the work of fetching and rendering web sites between the device and Amazon’s cloud services. The browser promises to speed web browsing by reducing DNS requests, caching site data on Amazon Web Services cloud, optimizing site files such as images, and prefetching webpages based on aggregate browsing data.
Metro is the touch-friendly, full screen interface that will run on top of Windows 8 and be the main mode for touch devices such as tablets. According to Microsoft, “running Metro style IE plug-in free improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers.”
Something I’ve been preaching for years, but just because your web analytics say everyone visiting your site has as screen resolution of 4,000 pixels by 4,000 pixels doesn’t actually mean their browser is that size. Screen resolution size is not the same as browser window size. Most users, including myself, surf the web with their browser window at only a fraction of their screen resolution.
Internet Explorer 9 is another step closer to full public release as Microsoft made available the first release candidate (RC) of the browser for download. Release candidates are past alpha or beta versions of software and indicate that this should be code that is close enough to bug free that it is almost ready for the general public. If no fatal bugs are discovered, the software will be released.
In addition to the obvious user interface changes and some performance boosts, IE9 will bring with it much improved CSS3 and HTML5 support. It’s nowhere near perfect, but IE9’s adoption of modern and cutting edge web standards is leaps and bounds better than Internet Explorer 8. As users ditch IE8 and adopt IE9 they’ll finally be able to enjoy many great touches and flourishes that web designers and developers can easily add thanks to CSS3.