By Peter Bright, Ars Technica
The current trend in browser design, led by Google Chrome, is to scale back the browser’s interface so that it takes less and less of the screen, devoting more room to the web content itself. Windows 8′s Metro design similarly removes window chrome to put the focus on content.
Metro Internet Explorer 10 is the logical conclusion of this trend: Most of the time it has no visible interface at all, leaving only the webpage visible. Its app bar, displayed by swiping from the top or bottom of the screen or right clicking the mouse, contains tabs, the address bar, and so on.
The Metro version of Internet Explorer feels slick and comfortable using both touch and mouse and keyboard interaction. Particular highlights are the tile-based favorites view and the tab thumbnails, both shown to good effect in Microsoft’s post.
Internet Explorer 9 introduced some particularly taskbar-oriented features: support for pinning sites to the taskbar, and the ability for those pinned sites to create custom options in the Jump list. In Windows 8, sites can be pinned to the Start screen to make them instantly accessible. Sites pinned this way can even update their tile to show status notifications — much in the way that “real” apps can do. However, the Jump lists are tucked away, only available from within Internet Explorer.
Sandbox protection of this kind isn’t perfect — there are various techniques for escaping from the sandbox and increasing privileges — but it serves as another measure attackers have to defeat if they want to exploit users.
Enhanced Protected Mode further reduces the rights that each low-privilege process has: Not only do they not have write permission to the file system, they also lose read permission. This makes the sandbox even harder to escape, but it comes at a cost: It breaks virtually all current plugins.
The Metro browser is already plugin-free, but the desktop browser is not. Enhanced Protected Mode won’t be the default on the desktop (though this will be an option) to ensure that plugins remain compatible. If Enhanced Protected Mode is enabled, then any attempt to use an incompatible plugin will result in a prompt to disable the mode for that tab, to allow the plugin to work.
With the systemwide anti-exploitation features that Internet Explorer 10 is also using, it’s shaping up to be the most secure Internet Explorer ever.
This article originally appeared on Ars Technica, Wired’s sister site for in-depth technology news.
Mozilla has released Firefox 11, adding some new developer tools, support for the SPDY protocol and the ability to sync your add-ons between computers.
This release is not recommended for drummers, but everyone else can grab Firefox 11 from the official Firefox download page, or you can just wait for the automated update system to work its magic.
The big news in this release is the new add-on syncing tool. Firefox Sync has long handled syncing bookmarks, preferences, passwords, history and open tabs across computers, but until now syncing add-ons was an entirely manual process. Add-on syncing has been a feature request for Firefox Sync pretty much since syncing was announced in 2010, but until to day it wasn’t available.
If you’d like to include add-ons in the list of items synced, just open up Firefox’s preference panel, head to the sync tab and check the new add-ons option.
Firefox 11 also has some new features for web developers, including the Tilt 3-D code inspector. Derived from the Tilt plug-in, the 3-D code inspector is a WebGL-based visualization of the page’s DOM and HTML structure. When you select “inspect element” Firefox will bring up a breadcrumb-style menu bar at the bottom of the page. In Firefox 11 you’ll find that a new button “3D” has joined the HTML and Style buttons in the page inspector menu bar.
This release adds a new Style Editor to Firefox’s developer toolkit. The Style Editor offers a two-pane view for browsing all of a webpage’s styles, both inline and external stylesheets. The right-hand pane displays the styles as plain text (with syntax highlighting), while the left pane shows the list of all your style sources. Make changes to the stylesheet and your changes are reflected on the webpage in real time. When you’ve got things looking the way you’d like you can then save the modified stylesheet.
If the new developer features convince you to switch back from Chrome, you’ll be glad to know that Firefox can now migrate your bookmarks, history, and cookies directly from Google Chrome.
Other new features in Firefox 11 include preliminary support for SPDY, Google’s alternative to the ubiquitous HTTP protocol. SPDY, pronounced “speedy,” isn’t quite ready for prime time yet in Firefox and is disabled by default. But if you’d like to test it out (Twitter is using SPDY where possible, as is Google) head to about:config and set
network.http.spdy.enabled to true.
With Firefox 11 officially released, Firefox 12 moves to the beta channel and Firefox 13 to the Aurora channel. As of this writing, those channels don’t appear to have been updated just yet, but if you’re using either expect an update to arrive in the next day or two.
The first of the new iPads will arrive in the hands of the public this Friday, March 16. Like the iPhone before it, and no doubt many more devices to come after it, the new iPad has four times the resolution of typical screens. That means your visitors will soon be looking at your site on a high-resolution screen with a whopping 3.1 million pixels.
The sharp, crystal-clear screens are awesome news for new iPad owners, but they create some new dilemmas for web developers who’d like to offer a better experience for high-resolution screens. Sure, increased pixel density means you can serve up sharper, better looking graphics, but there is a cost as well — bigger images mean more bandwidth and longer page loads.
The problem is simple: you need to send smaller images to small screens and larger images to larger screens. Sending a huge iPad-optimized image to a device with a max resolution of 320×480 just doesn’t make sense. At the same time, when bandwidth isn’t an issue, most sites will want to serve high-resolution content to displays that can handle it.
The ideal solution would be to detect both the resolution of the screen and the available bandwidth. Then, based on the combination of those two factors, the server could offer up the appropriate image. Currently that’s not possible, though there are already proposals to extend HTML to handle that scenario.
The Responsive Image Working Group is a W3C community group hoping to solve some of these problems. The group is proposing a new HTML element,
<picture>, which will take into account factors like network speed, device dimensions, screen pixel density and browser cache to figure out which image to serve up. Think of it as a much smarter version of the old lowsrc property. So far though it’s all hypothetical
In the mean time if you’d like to serve up high resolution images to your third-generation iPad visitors look no further than Apple.com for one (not necessarily ideal) way to do it. An Apple Insider reader noticed that Apple is already prepping its site to deliver double-resolution images to new iPads. Cloud Four’s Jason Grigsby, whose responsive image research we’ve covered before, has a great breakdown of what Apple is doing.
The slower page loads seem to be an acceptable trade off for Apple since the company no doubt wants to showcase the new iPad’s high resolution display with high resolution images. For other sites the bandwidth trade off may not be worth the gain in image resolution.
Still, screens are only going to continue getting better with ever-increasing pixel density. Now is the time, if you haven’t already, to start embracing CSS 3 (avoid images altogether with gradients, shadows and rounded corners in CSS 3), Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) for resolution independent graphics and of course @media queries to serve high-res background images.
For more on detecting and developing for high resolution displays, check out these posts from around the web:
- Media Query & Asset Downloading Tests — Want to know how you can avoid the double image load tax Apple is paying? Tim Kadlec has the tests and results for a variety of methods.
- Optimising for High Pixel Density Displays. — Menacing Cloud’s take on optimizing for the iPhone 4 retina display.
- Mobile Web in High Resolution — Brad Birdsall’s take on bringing half pixel borders to high resolution devices
- Resolution Independence With SVG — David Bushell tackles SVG over at Smashing Magazine.
- Notes on Adaptive Images (yet again!) — Opera’s Bruce Lawson rounds up problems and solutions facing anyone trying to serve up different images based on screen size.
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