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Chrome Takes On Firefox in HTML5 Duel

Google and Mozilla’s latest web browser versions include increased web programming language support

Google and Mozilla both launched new versions of their popular web browsers this week, and each had something important in common – HTML5 support – albeit for different use cases.

Mozilla Firefox 4 was the bigger of the two launches, emerging from several months of beta builds stretching back to last summer.

In addition to the speed increases and the inclusion of the ‘Do Not Track’ browser security feature, Firefox 4 has added support for the increasingly important HTML5 web programming language.

Removing plug-in requirements

HTML5 enables graphically intensive applications without requiring multimedia plug-ins such as Adobe’s Flash Player and Microsoft Silverlight.

Firefox 4’s HTML5 support includes high-definition video via Google’s webM V8 codec, 3D graphics, offline data storage, professional typography, touch-screen interfaces and the Mozilla Audio application programming interface (API).

“These technologies are the foundation for building amazing websites and web applications,” Mozilla said in a blog post. Such web applications would likely include games that make use of HTML5 capabilities and other graphic-hungry programmes.

Fresh off of its Chrome 10 release earlier this month, Google launched Chrome 11 to its Chrome beta channel with support for the HTML5 speech input API.

This API, forged by the World Wide web Consortium (W3C), will let developers write web applications for transcribing voice to text.

Developing speech to text

“When a web page uses this feature, you simply click on an icon and then speak into your computer’s microphone,” said Chrome software engineer Satish Sampath in a blog post. “The recorded audio is sent to speech servers for transcription, after which the text is typed out for you.”

Google offered this web page to let users try this capability, which is a demonstration of the search engine’s cloud-computing prowess.

Such capabilities, which are also being tested in speech-to-text translation for smartphones based on Google’s Android operating system, are expected to go a long way to improving the efficiency of using web applications.

The newly polished Firefox 4 and the Chrome 11 beta have other web tools in common. Specifically, Chrome 11 is testing graphics processing unit (GPU) accelerated 3D Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to enable developers to apply 3D effects to web page content using CSS.

Firefox 4 meanwhile improves CSS, Canvas and SVG support to enable developers to make web pages more engaging.