Chrome 78 has rolled out to all platforms, which means it's time for Chrome 79 to hit the Beta Channel. This update is definitely smaller in scope than the last few releases, but there are still a few interesting additions — especially if you're interested in VR/AR.
The original WebVR standard allowed virtual reality games and demos to run in a web browser, but the newer WebXR API (which has been under development for around two years) is designed to be much more powerful. Developers will be able to use WebXR to create both VR and AR (augmented reality) experiences, mirror 3D scenes to other displays, and support different kinds of input devices.
Chrome started supporting WebXR in May of last year, but it was hidden behind a flag. Chrome 79 enables WebXR by default, allowing anyone to try out demos and games using the technology without diving into Chrome's settings. On desktop platforms, support for Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus, Vive, and OpenVR headsets is being worked on.
Table from developer documentation (source)
On Android, WebXR will be compatible with both Google Daydream and Cardboard, but the lack of any controllers on the latter means you probably won't have much fun. You can try out some demos here.
As always, Chrome 79 includes changes for both users and developers. Here are some smaller features bundled with this update:
- Web apps (once granted permission) can scan for Bluetooth Low Energy devices.
- The 'aria-help' accessibility attribute is no longer supported.
- All HTML elements can now be automatically focused by websites. For example, a custom text field could be automatically highlighted when you load a page.
- Progressive Web Apps should work better with Android adaptive icons in Chrome 79+.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.
Note: Most versions of the Chrome APK use app bundles, which APKMirror doesn't support yet. As a result, only a few variants are available for download.