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When software developers create a new program or application they often go through many versions before the product is finally released. One of the more common testing periods is when the product goes out to a number of outside testers who are not part of the company. This is commonly known as the Beta test. After any changes have been made, the product is often released as what is commonly referred to as ‘Stable’. Google’s Web browser Chrome follows this same pattern, and has recently seen a new Beta version released with some juicy features that could change the way we use the Internet.
The latest Beta version of Chrome is Chrome 25, and it has some cool features that could bring about a change in the way we interact with our Web browser and ultimately surf the Internet.
Here’s two that might entice you:
Web Speech API
API stands for Application Program Interface and is a set of tools and rules developers can use to make programs. Many companies like Google write code around a central idea that then becomes something akin to software building blocks. Developers can take these blocks, combine them how they like, and create an application, program, etc. from this.
The recent Beta release has a Web Speech API, that allows users to interact with the browser using their voices. Developers who download this version can take this code and start to write programs/features into existing programs that allow you to use your voice to interact with Chrome and therefore the Internet.
An example provided by Google shows an employee using their voice to compose an email. You can view the video here. As of now, this is not a useable feature of Chrome, but you can expect Google to fully integrate this into the browser in the near future. Imagine browsing a webpage and coming up with an idea, you will probably be able to simply hit a button, say your idea and Chrome will send you an email. All without leaving the current page.
Developers have now got their hands on this, so you can expect some pretty cool voice related features in the coming months/year. What’s really exciting about this API is that if quality programs and apps are developed, you could see a change to the way we interact with computers. Imagine a Star Trek style scenario where you simply tell your computer to search for the latest blog update from us, and then to share it on a social media service. This could be really amazing.
Disabled silent extensions
Extensions are a popular feature of Chrome because they allow users to customize the browser to their needs. For Windows users, developers of these extensions had the ability to silently install these when their program was installed. As with most things on the Internet, this was taken advantage of by many third-party developers who wrote programs that installed extensions without the user knowing, or providing the user with specific knowledge of what the extension did.
This obviously poses a bit of a potential security risk. With the new Beta version of Chrome silent extensions have been disabled. When an application wants to install an extension to Chrome, users will now get a prompt and be able to either allow or deny it. For users who already have these installed these will also be disabled, and they will also be shown a one-time prompt which allows them to either allow/deny these extensions access.
Should we update?
While these new features may sound like something you would like to use, Chrome 25 is a Beta product. This means there will be bugs, and a potentially heightened security risk. If your company relies on browsers that are solid, don’t crash (often) and mostly free of bugs, you are better off waiting until these features are released for the normal version of Chrome. Knowing Google, these will be made available in the coming months.
If you do download the new Beta version, you likely won’t notice much of a change in day-to-day use, as most of the API features are mainly for developers at this point. When the developers do release products, they will likely only work for Chrome 25, so you will be able to use them when they are released.
Most users however, should stay with the versions of Chrome they have installed. If you would like to learn more about Chrome and any other Google product please let us know, we can help.
Published on 29th January 2013 by Jeanne DeWitt.