The first results of Opera's WebKit brain transplant are now available for people to try: a beta version of Opera for Android. The new version uses Android-native user-interface elements but preserves many Opera features such as Speed Dial. It gets some new features, too, such as Off-road Mode to enable a proxy-browsing technology designed for slow network connections and the Discovery tool for people who want to browse content tailored to their interests.
In response to discovering that hackers were actively exploiting two vulnerabilities in Java running in Web browsers, Oracle has released an emergency patch that should deal with the problem. Oracle wrote that these vulnerabilities may be remotely exploitable without authentication, i.e., they may be exploited over a network without the need for a username and password. For an exploit to be successful, an unsuspecting user running an affected release in a browser must visit a malicious web page that leverages these vulnerabilities.
ownCloud is a free software suite, written in PHP, that provides file storage, synchronization, and sharing. It provides the same basic features of Dropbox or Box.net. It also provides a whole lot more. ownCloud was started three years ago when Frank Karlitschek wanted a free software alternative to proprietary solutions. In the time since the project has attracted a dedicated group of core contributors, made several significant releases, and is available in 42 languages. It’s also spun off a commercial project to drive development of ownCloud for enterprise users.
As promised, the Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview for smartphones and tablets is now available for download. The Developer Preview is the precursor to the full launch, pencilled in for early next year, and is likely to be unstable at times. Aaron Souppouris previewed the phone UI last month, and more recently had a look at the tablet UI running on a Nexus 10 tablet.
Mozilla, which bowed to the market power of the H.264 video compression technology last year, now has built support for the patent-encumbered standard into the Nightly version of Firefox on Windows 7. Mozilla can't actually ship H.264 in its open-source product because of the patent licensing requirements, so it decided instead to adapt Firefox to draw on H.264 support built into newer operating systems.
The Portable Document Format is one of the more ubiquitous document types both on the Web and on personal devices, and can be used for distributing manuals, brochures, and most other formatted documents. However, until now Firefox, one of the more popular Web browsers, in part due to its availability on OS X, Windows, and Linux, has not had a built-in PDF reader. Instead, to open PDFs it's been necessary to either install a browser plug-in or download the PDFs and open them in a managing program like Apple's Preview.
Opera Software, an independent voice in the browser market since the 1990s, will dramatically change its strategy this year by adopting the WebKit browser engine used by Safari and Chrome. The Norwegian company announced the move and said it will show off the first fruits of the work with a WebKit-based version of its Android browser at the Mobile World Congress show in less than two weeks. But the company will move to WebKit for its desktop browser, too.
Microsoft's Skype team rolled out two new updates, both labeled as version 6.2, for Windows and Mac. The Windows version includes a redesigned top toolbar that brings together main actions, like calling phones, creating groups, and adding contacts. It also includes eGifting, or the ability to send Skype credits to users on their birthday which the recipients can use anytime.
Microsoft Office has long been the dominant office suite. Through the years there have been many contenders rise and fall: WordPerfect, Corel, StarOffice, and too many more to count. Sun Microsystem’s StarOffice eventually mutated into OpenOffice, which for a long time was the best alternative to Microsoft’s dominance. But when Oracle bought Sun, legions of developers abandoned OpenOffice, and instead threw in with a forked version called LibreOffice.
BlackBerry may have been much of the past few months criss-crossing the globe in an effort to drum up developer support for BlackBerry 10, but it turns out that there’s at least one market where the company has essentially given up. According to a recent report from the Nikkei Business Daily, the Waterloo-based company would not bring BlackBerry 10 and the devices that run it to Japan’s shores, and BlackBerry has just confirmed its stance.