It has been about a month and a half since the last Chrome release, but good things come to those who wait, right? Chrome 62 includes yet another redesign hidden behind a flag, some new APIs developers can use, and several smaller tweaks. So without further ado, let's get into it.
Modern UI for Chrome Home
Google is still gradually rolling out the bottom address bar redesign for Chrome, known as 'Chrome Home.' At the same time, the company is working on 'Modern layout for Chrome Home,' which is essentially version 2.0. While the first redesign was both a functional and design overhaul, the Modern layout is almost exclusively aesthetic.
Modern UI in Chrome 62
The modern UI first appeared in Chrome Canary 62, and then received more changes when v62 moved up to Chrome Beta. As you can probably tell from the screenshots, the main difference is that everything is round - including the address bar and the New Tab Page cards/shortcuts.
From left to right: New Tab Page (with Doodle flag enabled), tab manager, overflow menu
There are some other subtle differences too. The bottom navigation bar no longer has labels, and the tab manager now has a light background with a translucent bottom bar. The overflow menu no longer contains entries for Bookmarks, Downloads, and History; those can now be found as tabs on the New Tab Page, so having menu items for them became redundant.
This isn't enabled by default (at least not for everyone), but you can turn it on by switching the #enable-chrome-home-modern-layout flag to 'Enabled.' You'll also need to turn on #enable-chrome-home, if you haven't already.
Network Information API
There's a new API that web apps can use in Chrome 62, called the Network Information API. As the name implies, it allows sites to view information about your device's network connection. This includes the type of network (cellular, Wi-Fi, etc), the "effective type" (4G, 3G, etc), round-trip delay time, and maximum download link.
Network Information API demo on Chrome 62
This API would definitely be helpful for pages trying to minimize loading times, or online games testing your ping. For example, a website could detect that you have a slow internet connection, and show you a lightweight version instead.
As of Chrome 62, the Network Information API is enabled by default, and you can try a demo of it here.
Media Capture API
There's another interesting feature being enabled by default in Chrome 62 - the Media Capture API. Put simply, developers can use the new captureStream() function to record video and audio from specific parts of a web page (specifically, an HTML5 media player or <canvas> element).
In the above example (source), a 3D teapot on the left is being dragged around by the user, with the real-time recording visible on the right. The resulting video/audio stream uses WebRTC, so there are plenty of potential uses. Web-based games could have built-in livestreams, or maybe a painting webapp could automatically record a timelapse of your artwork.
The API first appeared in Chrome 50, but required enabling a flag to be used. As of this release, it's enabled by default.
Like always, Chrome 62 includes changes for both users and developers. Here are some smaller features that ship with this update.
- On the desktop, Chrome 62 marks all HTTP sites with text fields as 'Not secure' in the address bar. This doesn't appear to be present in the Android release.
- The HTML <data> tag and <time> tag are now working in Chrome 62.
- Chrome now supports OpenType variable fonts.
- Eight and four-digit hex colors are now supported in CSS, in the format #RRGGBBAA and #RGBA.
- The Payment Request API is now available in Chrome for iOS.
- 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.
- Downloads from Chrome on Android should be faster now.
- You can now view and copy passwords saved with Chrome, if device lock is enabled.
- You can check how much data you have saved with Data Saver, from the settings menu.
- 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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