Chrome 69 was a massive update, as it brought a brand new interface to both desktop and mobile. Chrome 70 isn't as radical of a change, but it includes a few important new features, like support for the AV1 video codec and TLS 1.3.
Almost exactly 10 years ago, Google released its own video codec to compete with H.264, called VP8. While there isn't much of a technological difference between the two formats, VP8 is royalty-free, while H.264 requires a license. Android has supported VP8 natively since 2.3 Gingerbread, and every major browser (except Safari) can play videos encoded in VP8.
Google is now part of the Alliance for Open Media, a group of companies working to create a successor to VP8/VP9, called AV1. Facebook tried out AV1 with hundreds of popular videos, and found that the format had "30% better compression than VP9, and achieves gains of 50.3%, 46.2% and 34.0%, compared to x264 main profile, x264 high profile and libvpx-vp9, respectively."
Starting with Chrome 70, AV1 support is now enabled by default on desktop platforms and Android. While it will probably be a while before AV1 achieves any kind of widespread use, since no other browsers support it at the moment, this is definitely an important milestone.
Progressive Web Apps on Windows
While most of the work on supporting Progressive Web Apps has been on mobile, Google isn't forgetting about desktop users. Chrome 67 added an install button to PWAs on the desktop, and Chrome 70 includes several improvements for Windows users.
Chrome on Windows now displays an 'Install app?' popup on PWAs (after you interact with them for a while). If you accept, Chrome will create a Start Menu entry for the app. Just like with the shortcuts you could create before, the browser UI is hidden when a Progressive Web App is open.
Google says this functionality should arrive for Mac and Linux with Chrome 72.
Shape Detection API
The Shape Detection API is in Chrome 70 as an "origin trial," meaning it's not ready for widespread use. The API can detect three types of objects in images - faces, barcodes, and text. At the moment, compatibility varies from platform to platform, because this requires the host operating system to have the required object detection features. You can try a demo out here.
Transport Layer Security, or TLS for short, is the protocol that allows data to be transferred over the internet securely. When you're on an HTTPS site, the data is most likely being sent over TLS. Chrome 70 includes support for version 1.3 of TLS, which was finalized last month.
A list of the changes can be found here, but in summary, it improves both efficiency and security. Fewer round-trips are required to establish a secure connection, so you might see a slight improvement in load times (if the site you're visiting supports TLS 1.3). Here's a graphical representation of the change from CloudFlare:
TLS 1.3 also drops support for a few legacy features, like SHA1 and MD5. Google said this on the Chrome Platform Status page:
TLS 1.3 was a multi-year project spanning contributions across the industry, academic research groups, and other participants in the standards process. We previously experimented with earlier drafts of the standard and, with the final standard done, are now excited to ship to it in Chrome.
Like always, Chrome 70 includes changes for both users and developers. Here are some smaller features that ship with this update:
- The speech synthesis API will no longer work unless the page has already been interacted with. This has been commonly used by spamware popups on mobile since it wasn't included in Chrome 66's new autoplay policy.
- Touch ID on Macbook Pros can now be used as a login method for the Web Authentication API.
- If a page is in fullscreen mode and displays a popup, the page will now exit fullscreen.
- AppCache no longer works on non-HTTPS pages.
- On Android devices, the OS build number (e.g. 'NJH47F') is no longer in the user agent string, to prevent fingerprinting. Chrome on iOS will freeze the build number at '15E148' instead of completely removing it, to follow Safari's implementation.
- Opus audio is now supported in MP4, Ogg, and WebM container files.
- WebUSB now uses dedicated worker contexts, which should improve performance.
- Web Bluetooth now works on Windows 10.
- There is a new sync dialog on desktop platforms (thanks, Edric).
- Service workers can now be named.
- The Credential Management API now supports Public Key Credentials.
- The original Custom Elements, HTML Imports, navigator.getGamepads, and Shadow DOM APIs are now deprecated.
- Lazy loading can now be enabled with the #enable-lazy-frame-loading and #enable-lazy-image-loading flags (thanks Oliver!)
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