This week Mozilla released a version of the Firefox web browser with support for WebAssembly. Now Google has released a stable version of its Chrome browser that also supports the new web standard.
WebAssembly is a set of tools that lets developers create web apps that run at near-native speeds. That means they can create 3D games and other applications that run almost as well in a web browser as they would if you downloaded and installed an app on your computer.
There aren’t a lot of web apps that actually use the technology yet, but if you’re using the latest version of Chrome or Firefox you can check out a Tanks Demo game or a first person shooter called Cube 2.
Google released a beta version of the Chrome browser with WebAssembly support earlier this year. But now that the standard is finalized, Google has released Chrome 57 stable with the WebAssembly API enabled by default.
Other changes in Chrome 57 include CSS Grid Layout and a number of improvements to Chrome for Android, including the ability to add progressive web apps to your home screen and app drawer so they look like native apps, and a new Media Session API that lets you view and interact with media information on your lock screen and notification tray when watching a web video.
What about getting Android apps to run on Chromebooks? Last time I tried it, I got a message saying ‘Coming soon’ even in the Developer’s Channel. Why aren’t Android apps for Chromebooks ready for Prime Time yet?
I think it depends on your hardware. I have a Chromebook that does support Android, so it is live, and it is awesome.
This is great news if you have a great Internet connection or don’t clear your cache every time you close your browser. The last thing I want is to spend 10 minutes loading something in the Internet every time I want to use an application.
The wheel turns as a new generation must learn anew. This is an in browser thing that offers ‘near native speed’ and platform independence. Wow, that is so awesome… if you are too young to remember when Sun was promising that Java was “Write once, run everywhere” and Netscape got Microsoft’s undies in a bunch by promising to make the web browser the next platform and usurp Windows. Then Flash was going to the universal platform, and then when skepticism about the viability of that grew it was Adobe AIR that would do the trick.
So who wants to bet how many years of exploits we must suffer through before the default browser config disables THIS roach motel? Exactly like the latest browsers are really, for real this time, removing the ability to run Java and would disable Flash if it wouldn’t break most of the net.
Let’s wait and see, shall we? Java and Flash were both designed over 20 years ago, which is ancient history (or more like prehistoric) in terms of today’s web and internet security standards.
And cross-platform development has also improved in leaps and bounds over the last 20 years too. This is not the 1990’s any more, and while it’s always important to learn lessons from the past, it is also important to remember that making the same mistakes again is far from inevitable, especially once you’ve factored in everything we have learned in the meantime.
I understand Java and to a slightly lesser extent Flash are malware magnets. Silverlight and Quicktime had the same reputation but neither are used by very many people nowadays. I haven’t used Java in years (yes, it is still available and I think still required to use some commercial Adobe programs) and have my browser set to block Flash and ask for an override before loading the offending content. Until recently Silverlight was required to run Netflix on Firefox but as far as I can tell that has went the direction of the passenger pigeon and the do do bird. I expect Flash to do likewise in favor of HTML5 or its successor by the year 2027.
Sweet. I tried the Tanks demo on Firefox a day or two ago and it did not completely load for me. This is on Linux. I thought it might be my quite limited processor not being up to task.
However the demo ran pretty well on Chrome for me just now. Took a little bit to load but then worked well.
Right, let the browser be the application platform layer so we’re not fighting for versions of software compatible with various OS developers. That then relieves the pressure from OS developers so they can launch a universal OS for all size devices without the fear that they will alienate a segment of their customer bases with things like Microsoft Continuum.
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