Chrome 61 was a huge update. Not only did the long-awaited Chrome Home UI (the bottom URL bar layout) finally start rolling out, but it also improved the Google Translate bar and file picker. Chrome 62 isn't quite the overhaul that 61 was, but it already has improvements to the round Chrome Home UI and enables several new APIs and features.
Chrome Home tweaks
The Chrome Home UI may finally be rolling out on Chrome Stable, but that doesn't mean Google has stopped working on it. The 'Modern layout for Chrome Home,' which makes the UI more round, is still being worked on. The altered interface first appeared in Chrome Canary 62, but now that v62 is up to Beta, there are a few changes.
Chrome Canary 62
Chrome Beta 62
The most immediate difference is the bottom navigation bar, which now lacks any labels. I'm not sure why the labels are gone, especially considering they didn't take up much screen real estate. There's also a new flag (#enable-chrome-home-doodle) that brings back the New Tab Page doodle, but it's only visible when creating a new tab.
From left to right: New Tab Page (with Doodle flag enabled), tab manager, overflow menu
The tab manager now has a light background and a translucent URL bar, but it seems to be a bit glitchy at the moment (some tabs had no titles at all). The overflow menu has removed the entries to Bookmarks, Downloads, and History, instead pointing users to the new navigation bar. I'm definitely happy about that; not only was the overflow menu getting really long, but also there's no sense in having duplicate triggers for the same pages.
The Modern Chrome Home layout may already be enabled for you on Chrome Beta. If not, go to chrome://flags, search for #enable-chrome-home-modern-layout on the page, and switch the dropdown menu to 'Enabled.'
Network Information API
As the name implies, the Network Information API allows web apps to see information about your device's network condition. This includes the type of network (Wi-Fi, cellular, etc), the "effective type" (4g, 3g, etc), maximum download link, and round-trip delay time.
Network Information API demo on Chrome 62
This would be especially useful for web apps trying to minimize loading times. For example, a site could detect that you have a poor connection, and show a lightweight version of a page instead. Or a streaming site could more easily determine your connection and videos would buffer less. This API becomes enabled by default with Chrome 62, and you can try a demo of it here.
Media Capture API
The captureStream() function makes it possible to capture a stream from HTML5 video/audio or a <canvas> element in real time. You might have read that sentence and thought, "that sounds really boring." But this makes it possible for sites to record or live-stream certain web page elements without any external tools or apps.
In the above video (original source), you can see a 3D teapot being dragged around on the left. On the right is the teapot being recorded in real time. The media stream can even be live-streamed using WebRTC. Web-based games could have built-in recording functionality, so you could save your favorite moments for later. Or maybe a web app for painting could record a time-lapse of your work in the background.
The API first showed up in Chrome 50 behind a flag, but at the time, it only supported recording from <canvas> elements. Recording from video/audio showed up in Chrome 52, but again was behind a flag. Chrome 62 enables recording from video/audio by default.
Like always, Chrome 62 includes changes for both users and developers. Here are some smaller features that ship with this update.
- The HTML <data> tag and <time> tag are now working in Chrome 62.
- Eight and four-digit hex colors are now supported in CSS, in the format #RRGGBBAA and #RGBA.
- The CSS property 'visiblity:collapse' now works on table rows and row groups.
- The new /s flag for ECMAScript regular expressions makes periods ('.') match any character, including line terminators.
- Chrome 62 enables the Ambient Light Sensor API by default.
- For Mac users, form elements (buttons, file pickers, etc) should look closer to native ones.
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- Chrome Platform Status