Apple Adds iCloud Bookmark Syncing to Chrome and Firefox on Windows

ICloud Windows Control Panel

One of the nice features of Safari on Mac and iOS is how your bookmarks can stay in sync between your devices, with no plugin required. The one flaw in that setup was that there was no way to sync your Safari bookmarks to any other browser on Windows aside from Internet Explorer. If you wanted a universal bookmark experience, you had to use another browser with cross platform sync support, such as Chrome, on all of your devices. That has now changed. One piece of news almost lost amid the hoopla with iOS 7 and the new iPhones, is that Apple has added Chrome and Firefox to the list of browsers that support iCloud bookmark sync on Windows.

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Which PC and Mac Browsers Are Fastest?

Web browser speed tests

If you want to squeeze every last ounce of speed out of your browsing experience, then check out the latest browser speed tests at Tom’s Hardware. The site takes a look at several browsers on both the PC and on a Mac, and offers results in several different categories. The site then crowned a winner on each platform, as well as overall.

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How to Set a Keystroke to Open a Firefox Tab in Chrome – And Keep Flash Out of Firefox [Mac]

Keyboard maestro firefox to chrome tab

Lately, I’ve been seeing how well I can survive without Flash on my MacBook Air. I find my browsing experience to be faster without it, but every now and then I need Flash to use a site. We previously talked about how to watch many YouTube videos without having Flash installed on your system, but what about other sites that use Flash? My setup involves using Firefox as my main browser on my MacBook Air (I use Chrome on my iMac), and switching over to Chrome when I need Flash. Chrome has Flash built in. My setup lets me automatically open my Firefox tab in Chrome, which supports Flash by default, by using a keystroke. Here’s how.

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How to Combine Firefox’s Search Box and Location Bar, Just Like in Chrome

firefox omnibar.jpeg

I was a long time Firefox user, but moved to Chrome when Firefox started to feel bloated. With the release of Firefox 4, I’ve gone back to using Firefox as my primary browser (although I still use Chrome quite a bit, too). When I’m using Firefox, one feature that I miss from Chrome is the Omnibar, Chrome’s combined location box and search box. Firefox’s Awesome Bar has some nice features of its own, but if space is at a premium on your machine, you can get Chrome-like Omnibar goodness with the Omnibar extension for Firefox.

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Which Android Browser Is Fastest?

Android browser speed test

One of the ways to speed up web browsing on your smartphone is by using a snappy browser. On Android, you have many choices. Recently, both MakeUseOf and PC Magazine put several Android browsers through the paces, to see which one was fastest. The browsers tested by MakeUseOf included Firefox, Dolphin Mini, Dolphin HD, Opera Mobile, xScope, Skyfire, and the stock browser. PC Magazine tested Dolphin HD, Dolphin Mini, Firefox, Opera Mobile, and Opera Mini.

The conclusion? According to MakeUseOf, Firefox was the fastest. It beat the competition in the synthetic benchmarks, and edged the other browsers in the page loading test. The losers were Skyfire, and the stock Android browser. My browser of choice, xScope, fell in the middle of the pack.

PC Magazine didn’t rate the browsers just based on speed, but if you click through to the individual browser reviews, you will see the speed results. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, the article appears to have a typo and shows the same chart for two of the tests. Still, reading the text of the reviews, it appears that Firefox comes out on top, with the other browsers displaying mixed results. As the Firefox review notes, though, Firefox’s mobile offering has other issues, such as video handling and how it displays pages.

My take? Speed isn’t the only consideration. See which browser feels most comfortable to you, so long as the speed is acceptable. My browser of choice, xScope, sports a user interface that I love, and respectable speed. Once you get into the middle of the browser speed results, the differences among browsers was negligible, making other considerations more important.

What is your favorite Android browser? What do you like about it?

The Best Browsers for Android [PC Magazine]

What’s The Fastest Android Browser? [MakeUseOf]

Use Jolicloud for a Web App Dashboard in Firefox, Safari (or Chrome)

Use Jolicloud for a Web App Dashboard in Firefox, Safari (or Chrome) | 40Tech

One of Google Chrome’s best features is the Apps Dashboard. With the current push toward cloud computing, it sometimes seems that a new web app surfaces almost daily. When used in conjunction with the Chrome Web Store, it’s easy to sort through the multitudes of services out there, get a quick review, and have your favourites at your fingertips. Sometimes the buttons are nothing more than spiffy bookmarks, and others integrate with the browser, adding context menu functionality and other things that make your life easier. The ability to sync your apps between machines is an added bonus, bringing us one step closer to Google’s dream of us all living in the almighty Browser [see ChromeOS].

Unfortunately, if you are a Firefox user, even with the recent leaps forward in Firefox 4, there is no native service that offers what the Apps Dashboard does in Chrome. You could use specialized start page plugins or services and put together your favourite quick-links, but you would still be missing out on the best feature: discoverability. Unless you use Jolicloud, that is.

Jolicloud Web App Dashboard, App Desktop in Firefox | 40Tech

Jolicloud started as a specialized Linux OS for netbooks, attempting to give those small screens an easy and visual user experience. Because netbooks are small and built mostly for web browsing, it made sense for Jolicloud to focus on web apps, and while they did offer native software installs, they were much more cloud-based (hence the name). They added a social component to their OS, allowing you to connect with and share your favourite web app recommendations with other users, and you could log in on any Jolicloud machine and sync your apps over to it, too! This might sound a lot like Google ChromeOS, but Jolicloud was doing all of this actively before ChromeOS was even out of the gate.

These days, Jolicloud still exists as an OS, but has changed its name to JoliOS. What Jolicloud is now is a very pretty web app itself that functions as a dashboard that can be opened in any Firefox 4 or Safari 5 browser. It can also be opened in Google Chrome — and is actually an app in the Google Web Store. Jolicloud has built up a decent list of web apps in its directory, and though it doesn’t have the ability to integrate its apps into your browser, it does a few things that the Google Chrome App Dashboard can’t do. Like look pretty — or be multi-page.

Jolicloud Install Web Apps List | 40Tech

Jolicloud has many different wallpapers that can be applied to it, and has several pages for you to organize your apps. The pages function very much like iOS in that you can drag the app icons around and move them from page to page by pushing them against the right or left edge of the screen. Combined with the fact that the apps are always in the same position you left them in, no matter what computer you open them on — as opposed to Google Chrome missing some in syncs, or occasionally reordering them on you — and you end up with a very good experience.

Another thing that actually gives Jolicloud a leg up over Chrome’s App Dashboard is the ability to add whatever site you like by URL, using the Add New App button on the bottom of the web apps category list, which you get to by pressing the big green plus button. Essentially, you could use Jolicloud as your web app library and as your speed-dial to your favourite sites — very handy! If that’s not enough for you to give it a shot, then click on the folder tab in the top left — you can actually connect Dropbox and Google Docs right into the app, with available space reports, and in-app previews and editing, which makes for all kinds of convenience.

Jolicloud Connects to Dropbox, Google Docs

I’ve found only two annoying things about Jolicloud:

  1. That the site has experienced the occasional weird 400 error, and made it seem that my apps were wiped out. That can usually be fixed by restarting the browser, sometimes with a clean cache, and logging in again.
  2. That the sync with the actual OS will bring over apps — or offer apps in the list — that are actually for installed software. Generally, these are just greyed out if you are using them in JoliOS, but there are times they can be made to work. I got Skype to launch from Jolicloud, for example.

If you want to use Jolicloud with your Firefox 4 or Safari 5 install (Opera is not supported, and IE only works — sometimes — with Chrome Frame), just head to Jolicloud.com and create an account, then click on My Jolicloud. The rest is pretty self-explanatory. Once you have your apps in place, either set Jolicloud as a pinned tab, or have it open as your start page. The are reports of the devs working to create a Firefox extension for Jolicloud to make it an even better experience for FF users. They are also apparently working on Android compatibility, and already have experimental iPad support.

If you like Jolicloud a bunch, you might want to go the whole way and install JoliOS — it can be installed and removed in Windows and configures your system for dual boot. You could also buy the cute little Jolibook computer, if you have some spare cash and are in the UK.

Have you tried Jolicloud? What did you think?

Bring Sanity To Tabbed Browsing With Tabbed Groups [Firefox]

firefox tab groups

I’m not very loyal when it comes to web browsers. For years, I used Firefox, but I made the switch over to Chrome when its extension ecosystem matured enough to be usable. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Firefox, though, and the release of Firefox 4 on March 22 prompted me to take it for a spin. The verdict? I like it. It feels faster than Chrome, although that might be because my Chrome installation has become bloated over time. I’ve also started playing around with Firefox’s Tab Groups, which are a big help in organizing tabs. READ MORE

8 Time-Saving Firefox Extensions

8 Time-Saving Firefox Extensions | 40Tech

Today, 40Tech is pleased to present a guest post by Neil Jones.

My Father has a saying; if you’re paid by the hour, take your time.  Sadly I’m not paid by the hour and I can’t afford to take my time. I guess I’m like most folks and every minute is precious – especially if you are in a job like mine where you are only paid on results, so the more you can get done in a day the better your wage will look at the end of the week. Automation and generally trying to increase your productivity throughout your working day is something that none of us can now overlook, and if any part of your job involves using the web, then, for a start, Firefox is a must .

Make no mistake Firefox will help you get more done, save time and generally help to remove or at least automate any mundane repetitive jobs you have to do. It can’t do it on its own though, it needs the help of these plugins:

Imacros: If you only ever add one plugin to Firefox then add this one, it can fill forms, auto-click buttons and do pretty much whatever else you need it to. I can’t stress enough how good this plugin is, but to help I’ll give you an example. The first thing that most people who own a website do when they sit down to start work is check their analytics for the previous day, I know it’s a little anal but I counted the amount of clicks and the time it takes, and you are talking between 4 and 5 clicks and 30 seconds to get to where you want to go. Imacros can do this for you while you go make a coffee. This is only one example of how this plugin helps and I know 30 seconds doesn’t sound like much, but they all add up!

Autocopy:  As the name suggests this little plugin will automatically copy any highlighted text on a web page, with no longer a need for CTRL+C one hand is now freed to drink more coffee!

URL Fixer: If you’re a typo demon, this plugin will help you whenever you misspell a TLD ( Top Level Domain) like when you type .cm instead of .com. Maybe not a huge time saver but it definitely helps and saves on the number of clicks.

Adblockers: Though there are countless available they all do pretty much do the same thing, they prevent any flash banners or ads from being displayed, this saves on load time and it also removes any distractions from the page. GreaseMonkey in particular has some of the best adblockers.

For the addictive websites that you find you spend too much time on (mine is PassiveAggressiveNotes.com just can’t get enough)  there are plugins that will either block the site completely during certain times (LeechBlock) or if you just want a friendly reminder of the amount of time you have spent on a certain site then use Procrastato. It can be scary to realize how much time can be wasted just on one site alone.

Following on from the idea of the addictive websites there are a couple of plugins that allow you to save a page so you can read when you have more time, the best is probably Read It Later. Essentially, it works in the same way as the bookmarking services but it’s quicker and stores the addresses locally.

Finally, Morning Coffee keeps track of the most visited sites on your browser, giving you quick and easy access to your most popular pages.

If you are looking for your working day to be revolutionized, where you will find yourself with all your work done and an hour to spare every evening, then maybe you are reading the wrong post (start looking for a Virtual Assistant…) but if  you want things to work a little smoother, a little smarter, and a little faster, then any of these plugins are a pretty good place to start.

What are some of your favourite time saving plugins for your browser?

Internet Explorer is Now Losing the Browser Wars? Magic 8-Ball Says: Doubtful

Internet Explorer is Now Losing the Browser Wars? Magic 8-Ball Says: Doubtful

Internet Explorer has been slowly but steadily losing ground in the “browser wars” since the invention of that little hot little vulpine browser, Firefox. Google Chrome shook up the market even more and is continuing what’s considered to be a fast upward climb. Safari is Safari, and Opera is largely underestimated.

In the article I read about IE’s plummet, on Mashable, the tone was very much in the negative for Internet Explorer, citing phrases such as “to little, to late” and “Hail Mary” in reference to the coming improvements of IE9. Now, I am no fan of Internet Explorer (my web-designer-self hates it with a furious feral fire), and no disrespect intended to the knowledgeable minds over at Mashable, but I think a little bit of perspective may be called for.

Yes, IE has finally hit a downward slide (thank you, powers that be!) — but even with the European ruling that dropped IE from Microsoft Windows installations, and the rise of Google Chrome, Internet Explorer still holds 49.87% of the browser market (as stated in the Mashable article). Another unfortunate truth is that a good percentage of that percentage still uses IE6. The fact that anyone is still using that piece of crap is proof positive that people aren’t as far advanced into the world of technology as we might have hoped. But I digress…

Browser Market Share Chart | Mashable

The point I am making here is that 49.87%, while still a hefty drop for IE when compared to the gains of other browsers, is still the largest segment of the market by nearly 20%. Internet Explorer 9 may be a bit late, but it is still going to compete soundly with the other browsers out there. IE9 may not win back Microsoft’s haters (count me in that batch), but it will win back some people — and it will keep even more. If Internet Explorer is going anywhere, I don’t think it will be anytime soon.

What do you think?

With Less than 50% Market Share, IE Is Now Losing the Browser Wars [Mashable]

Remove Website Clutter With One Click Using iReader for Chrome and Firefox

One Click Cuts Out Website Clutter With iReader Chrome, Firefox Extension | 40tech

If you’re a Safari user, you probably like the built in ad-stripping, easy-reading feature, Safari Reader. If you’re not, and you’re using Firefox or Chrome (I’ll happily side-step IE on this one), then you may be either jealous of the Safari functionality, or using an extension or bookmarklet like Readability (check out our post on the Readability+Evernote combo-bookmarklet). While Readability is great, Safari Reader is a step up — and the iReader extension for Google Chrome and Firefox is even better.

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