Kick With Chrome lets you be a soccer star on your browser

With the whole world still in the midst of World Cup fever, every child (and some adults too, for sure) is now dreaming of becoming the next football superstar for their country. But if you’re sitting in front of the computer, you can still take the first step towards that with the newest Chrome Experiment called Kick With Chrome.

With just Google Chrome open on your desktop or laptop, whether Windows or Mac, you can play three different kinds of football games: Infinite Dribble, Space Kick, and Shootout. You can use the chrome app on your phone or tablet to control the games. Infinite Dribble lets you become a tiki-taka master just by tilting your device so you can dribble past roadblocks and defenders. While some famous footballers like Wayne Rooney and Sergio Ramos have kicked balls to outer space during important games, Space Kick lets you do exactly that, only this time you win if you kick it as high as you can. The Shootout game would be good practice for your penalty kicks or blocking those shots from going inside the net.

While the game is meant to be played on a desktop with your phone or tablet as a controller, it can also be played just directly on your device. This game experiment was made possible with the use of several technologies, like the HTML5 Fullscreen,Accelerometer and Vibration APIs which are responsible for the rich mobile experience, while WebRTC DataChannel and WebSockets lets your mobile device and desktop connect with each other in real time.

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All you need to do is open this on your desktop and then the mobile version on your phone or tablet. Who knows, next World Cup you just might win the Best Kick With Chrome player award or something.

SOURCE: Chrome

Google Play Movies adds support for 21 more countries

Google Play Movies, which is the mothership’s semi-ubiquitous movie streaming service, is adding supported countries to its already considerable list. In March this year, Google added over 40 countries to the places where Google Play Movies can be used, and today it is adding 21 more.

The newly added countries list from Google is as follows: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

International copyright law will make sure that the availability list for rentals and downloads will be variable and convoluted from country to country. But this new list – which is bringing support to predominantly European countries – will make sure that the service is now available to a wider audience, provided of course that they update their Play Movies app. The way the app works is that movie and television content are made available – they can either be rented or purchased – through the app.

A recent innovation to the app is that with a new update in June, movies and TV episodes can now be watched offline via an extension in Chrome, Google’s browser – but this update is specifically for Chromebook users. This gives the ability to Play Movies users to pre-download their favorite shows and watch them at a later date. That specific Chrome extension is available in the Chrome Web Store.

SOURCE: Google

Samsung Series 3 Chromebook Review: Google Other Mobile Operating System

In April 2014, I had the opportunity to try a Samsung Chromebook. I used it to replace my Nexus 7 as my primary writing device but also for other productivity duties as well as dipping into social media.

Most of the mainstream reviews I’ve read of the Chromebook platform concentrate on comparing it with a Windows or MacOS notebook computer. Whilst I understand the comparison, my Windows box is not portable so instead, I’ll be reviewing the Chromebook from the perspective of it being my mobile computing device and replacing my Android tablet rather than replacing a Windows or MacOS device.

The Samsung Chromebook Series 3 is one of the older Chromebook models, originally released in October 2012. As I write it’s about to be replaced with the newer model due at the end of May 2014. It’s based around a dual core Cortex-A15 ARM processor, which is similar to the processor lurking inside the Nexus 10 Android tablet. However, the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook is a different kind of product; it uses a larger, lower resolution, non-touchscreen and a keyboard.

IMAG0524This keyboard is close to full size, but misses the numeric keypad on the side. It also has a track-pad too, under the keyboard, which is also decent. Neither is the last word in keyboards or trackpads but both are fully serviceable. It’s not quite as comfortable as my Apple wireless keyboard, but close enough.

At the back of the Chromebook you’ll find a proprietary charger port, a HDMI and two USB ports. This model Chromebook has no moving parts so it is silent in use. Some other Chromebooks have cooling fans and hard drives, so are not silent.

My preference is for a cool running, silent machine as it makes things less complicated when trying to use the device on my lap, for example. Plus an absence of moving parts bodes well for battery life.

The main difference between an Android tablet and a Chromebook is the software running on the device. Essentially, the Chromebook runs the Google Chrome browser over a lightweight LINUX installation, although most users will not see the LINUX foundation. The Chromebook is close to a thin client with Google providing the power for the productivity stuff.

As a Google product, the Chromebook is integrated with Google’s services. You need a Google Account to get the most from the machine. Actually, no; it’s as essential as it is on an Android tablet. As most of my readers are likely to be Android users, you should use the same account to sign into the Chromebook.

The dual core processor is backed up with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage, plus a SD memory card slot to the side. It has a combination of WiFi and Bluetooth radios, although some models come with a built-in 3G modem. The 11.6″ screen is usefully matt and of 1,366 by 768 pixel resolution. It has relatively poor viewing angles; this doesn’t matter too much if you’re sitting at the machine. Power comes from an internal 30 Wh rechargeable battery. This Chromebook is small and light, weighing just 2.4 lbs.

Restricting what you do on a computer to inside Google Chrome sounds very limiting, but in reality there’s a lot that may be accomplished using just a browser. If you already use several Google Services on your Android device the chances are that at some point you’ve also used these on a web browser. If this is the case, you’re most of the way there.

For myself, it turns out that most of my day to day productivity tasks are accomplished within either a Google Service or a browser. By this, I mean Gmail, Google Drive, Google Documents, Google Search and Google Keep. I keep myself entertained via my Amazon Kindle, Play Music or Netflix. I can access my bank website, order groceries, visit Twitter and Google+, edit images and even play an odd game or two all from a browser. Each tab can contain a document, spreadsheet, browser window or indeed anything you want.

I need to caveat the above by highlighting that I am writing about my day to day productivity computing tasks and I don’t use any specialist applications beyond a word processor. Your mileage will vary.

The browser works as well on the Chromebook as it does on any other machine I’ve used, although webpages are slightly slower compared with more powerful machines.

You can download additional applications via the Google Chrome store. Some applications are online-only, some are little more than URLs whereas others are browser extensions. It’s not always clear what you are downloading until you try it; but for the most part, when you add functionality to your Chromebook is it not the same as installing an application to a Windows or Android device.

I touched upon the Chrome browser being less responsive than some other machines and this leads me on to the Series 3′s system performance.

I’ve always find trying to discuss device system performance as something of a minefield because it depends on what the user is doing and what is expected from the device. As such, it’s a personal thing: what I do with my devices and how responsive I expect it to be is unique to me. However, this written I don’t want to simply write, “your mileage may vary,” because this doesn’t put things into context.

Nor do I take any comfort in benchmark scores because whilst these can produce a numeric score illustrating the performance, the scores are produced under test circumstances and do not always apply to the real world.

This shows off the keyboard and screen, which is at around 50% brightness.

This shows off the keyboard and screen, which is at around 50% brightness.

Putting the Series 3 Chromebook into the equation, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how responsive the device is. Depending on what I’m doing on the Chromebook, I’ll have anywhere from two to ten browser tabs open. There are some performance hiccups, the most obvious one when I am editing a document in one tab with Gmail open in another and I sometimes see the device momentarily pause if an email arrives. The more tabs open, the greater the likelihood that I’ll see the pause.

As I’ve written, the more complicated webpages can be a little less quick to open compared with other devices, but this is difficult to quantify because there are many other variables, starting with network speeds.

One personal benchmark for me is how quickly I can activate the device and start writing. In simple terms, the Nexus 7 takes less time to open the document and be ready to edit it but requires longer to set up the wireless keyboard. The two devices are comparable in this respect and neither has more than a sip of coffee time advantage over other other.

For academic interest, my Windows box is a four year old machine based around the entry level Intel i3 processor of its time, running 64-bit Windows 7. It has mechanical drives and is considerably slower than my Chromebook from a cold start.

Switching between browser tabs is usually quick on the Chromebook. One advantage over the Android Google Docs application is that the Chromebook can have multiple documents open, which makes it much quicker to move between files you are working on.

The other aspect of performance is battery life. Here, the 2013 Nexus 7 has an advantage over the Series 3 Chromebook. With the back-light low on both, the Chromebook will see somewhere over seven hours of screen use from a full charge. The Nexus 7 sees over nine hours of use, whereas the 2012 Nexus 7 sees around the same up-time as the Chromebook.

For offline access, both Android and Chrome OS support offline Docs and Sheet access. Their implementation is a little different: in Chrome OS, there’s a master offline access toggle, which automatically synchronizes your documents. Android users have to manually enable offline access for individual files, plus are also treated to more visual clues that the device is syncing your data once you are back online. The Chromebook does this silently to the user and in everyday use, this makes it friendlier.

Neither device can hope to be as functional when offline compared to being online. Some Chrome OS applications have an offline mode but it is not always clear if this works until you try it. And at the risk of overusing the phrase, here again “your mileage may vary.” For writing purposes, the Chromebook has a small advantage over the Android platform.

To summarize, I’m finding the Chromebook to be at least as productive as my Android tablet in day to day use. Battery life is almost as good, the keyboard is good and it fits into my bag; what’s not to like?

Your Android device could end up unlocking Chrome OS thanks to a new API

A new API for Chrome OS has been discovered, and curiously asks that other devices be able to unlock your computer. The less-than-creatively named API, “chrome.screenlockPrivate”, was spotted originally by Chrome aficionado Francois Beaufort. The API linked to a corresponding Drive file, which outlines the simple, yet oddly sublime, utility.

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The code review also has a short description, which reads “The chrome.screenlockPrivate API allows select apps to control the ChromeOS ScreenLocker.” A simple objective, it could be a really interesting feature for Chrome OS, and even the Chrome browser. If our mobile device is forced to be in proximity to our Chrome OS device to use it, it adds a layer of security Google is highly keen on, which is multiple devices guarding one another.

It also brings thing like Guest Mode into play, wherein you could simply leave your Chrome OS computer at home or the office, and those without your device (and by virtue API pass) could use it. We also like it as an anti-theft feature, which essentially locks a device down for most who would be interested in taking such devices anyway. In that way, it might be more interesting than we think.

The language notes that it has the ability to be used with USB, NFC, or Bluetooth. This calls into play smartwatches, Google Glass, your Android phone, other computers, and even NFC tags. We like the idea for a ton of reasons, most notably enterprise and education. If, by virtue of being in a class kids were prohibited from using their device as anything but a learning tool, Chromebooks for Education just got a lot better.

Dell Chromebook 11 unveiled for education

The HP Chromebook 11 may not have returned to an available status just yet, however there is a Chromebook 11 coming from Dell. The company announced their first Chromebook this morning, the Dell Chromebook 11. Unlike the HP model though, Dell has their Chromebook 11 heading to the education market.

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The Dell Chromebook 11 is expected to arrive in January and will be available in a 4GB and 2GB variety. And to clarify, that is a reference to the RAM. Dell has yet to offer a specific price and have instead mentioned how the notebook is “expected to sell below $300.” It should also be pointed out the Dell Chromebook 11 will be available for those in the US and the UK.

That all having been said, this model Chromebook will be sporting an 11.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366 x 768. There will be Intel HD graphics, a 720p front-facing webcam, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, a pair of USB 3.0 ports and HDMI for connecting to an external display. Dell has also said the battery will be able to provide up to 10 hours of run time.

The remaining specs include a 16GB SSD drive and 4th generation Intel Celeron 2955U processor. Along with the hardware, Dell has some software goodies for the Chromebook 11. One item in particular is access to the Dell Wyse PocketCloud application which provides a “personal cloud” across devices. That app will be available for download by way of the Chrome Web Store. Otherwise, similar to other model Chromebooks, the Dell offering will have access to the other Chrome apps including Google Docs and Google Cloud Print.

SOURCE: Dell

HP Chromebook 11 replacement charger appears in Play Store

HP officially announced the Chromebook 11 back in early-October. This model arrived as a Chromebook with an 11.6-inch display and while there was some mention of the color options at launch, there was something slightly more interesting. The HP Chromebook 11 used a microUSB charger, just like you would see with a smartphone or tablet. But as we later learned, that caused an issue.

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The HP Chromebook 11 was abruptly pulled from the Play Store (as well as with all retailers) in November. And while that caused some initial confusion, HP later confirmed the notebook was pulled to due issues with the charger. According to a statement from HP, they paused sales “after receiving a small number of user reports that some chargers included with the device have been damaged due to over-heating during use.”

The trouble is, since that point things have been on the quite side. And while the Chromebook 11 remains unavailable for purchase, a sign that it will make a return has appeared. We have yet to see a Chromebook 11 listing in the Play Store, however a coming soon style listing for a charger has appeared.

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The charger doesn’t have a ship date yet and otherwise, is simply showing a price of $19.99. We have yet to hear anything from HP, however we would expect any current HP Chromebook 11 users to get a replacement for free. But if anything, this listing does imply that owners may want to be on the lookout for a message from HP.

Otherwise, looking back to that earlier statement from HP and we see the following warning;

“customers who have purchased an HP Chromebook 11 should not use the original charger provided with the product. In the interim they may continue using their HP Chromebook 11 with any other Underwriters Laboratories-listed micro-USB charger, for example one provided with a tablet or smartphone. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Google search updated with option to open apps with relevant results

Do you consider yourself a heavy Googler? If so, you’ll be pleased to hear about a couple of Google search updates that are rolling out today.

The Big G has announced that users searching for a piece of information can now be presented with links to open up an app that contains the relevant info. For example, someone searching for Michael J. Fox may be given the option of opening up the IMDb app to learn more about the actor. It’s worth noting, though, that an app will need support for the “Open in app” feature baked into it to appear in search results. The list of apps that currently support it include IMDb, Newegg, OpenTable and Wikipedia.

Google search can also help users to find apps related to a particular topic that they haven’t yet installed. Performing a search for “fantasy football apps” will present a list of apps available in the Google Play Store, complete with links to the app pages and their download links.

Today’s Google search updates sound like they ought to make it easier and quicker for users to find the relevant information that they’re hunting for, whether that’s on the web or in an app, and I think that that’s something that we can all get behind. The improved app integration is now rolling out as part of an update to the Google Search app for Android and in the Chrome and Android browsers. For more info on the updates and how developers can add support for these features to their apps, just slide your cursor down to the Google links below and get to clickin’.

Via: Engadget
Source: Google Inside Search blog, Google Support, Google Play

Upcoming Google toolkit will help developers create Chrome apps that also run on Android (and iOS)

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It looks like Google is preparing to release a toolkit that will soon allow developers create Chrome apps that extend, not only run on the desktop, but Android (and iOS) devices as well. The boys at The Next Web made the discovery after stumbling upon Mobile Chrome Apps repository on Github, revealing Google’s upcoming plan to effectively extend beyond the browser.

Google declined to comment on their upcoming plans, saying that while they’re not ready to make anything official just yet, developers are more than free to use their tools that were uncovered. Using the new toolkit, developers can modify, tweak, and test their apps for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Once everything is running properly, these hybrid apps can immediately be published to the Google Play Store where you’ll be able to download and install them like any other app.

It looks like, for the time being, only Android 4.o+ devices will be supported, with an expected release as early as January of next year. We’ll keep our eyes peeled in the meantime developers can hit up the source link for more info on getting started with Chrome apps for mobile.

[via TNW]

Chrome offline apps set to launch on Android and iOS in 2014

Google is set to bring Chrome packaged apps to mobile, as well as desktop. The apps in question, which recently launched as “Desktop apps” in the Chrome Web Store for Chromebooks (or “Offline Apps” elsewhere), act just like web apps except they operate outside of a web browser, and don’t need an Internet connection. While we’ve long expected Google to bring Chrome extensions to mobile, this represents a new frontier in Google’s platform functionality.

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The project was discovered by The Next Web, who stumbled across a GitHub repository named Mobile Chrome Apps. Innocuous at first, it quickly became interesting when the project was found to be led by a Google software developer, Michal Mocny. The project is designed to give Developers a well rounded experience in programming and launching Chrome apps across platforms, and includes everything from bug fixes to testing.

Interestingly, the apps are meant for both the Play Store and App Store, but no nation of Windows Phone is made. The requirements suggest that Android 4.0 and up will be supported, with iOS functionality marked as TBA.

Chrome apps are written in HTML5, which has traditionally been reserved as a web-centric markup language. By offering HTML5 apps for offline use, Google is pushing the boundaries of operating systems, essentially challenging the need for one altogether. We see tho currently with Chrome apps finding a home on the Windows home screen and menu bar. By crossing into mobile, Google is continuing to push boundaries with the simplest of technologies.

The apps are said to be ready for beta testing as early as January, and we’ll be sure to watch for them in the Play Store. We’d like to think a Play Store update would serve as a precursor for a launch, as these would likely get their own section within Google’s storefront.