It has been three weeks since the last Chrome release, and right on schedule, Chrome 79 is now rolling out across desktop and mobile platforms. This isn't the largest update we've seen recently, but there are a few changes worth highlighting. Let's jump right in!
Services that let you know if your passwords have been stolen have existed for years, with the most famous example being Have I Been Pwned, but now Google is rolling out its own solution as part of Chrome 79.
As we previously covered, Chrome checks passwords you enter on sites using a secure hashing method, and lets you know if the password was leaked during a previous data breach. It's nice to see this become part of Chrome itself.
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. While the original API was purely for VR experiences, WebXR is designed for both virtual reality and augmented reality. It also has more features, like the ability to mirror 3D scenes to other displays, and work with more types 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 are 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.
One of the few interface changes in Chrome 79 for Android is a small tweak to the bookmarks manager. You can now re-order bookmarks by holding down on them and dragging the three-line icon up or down.
As always, Chrome 79 includes changes for both users and developers. Here are some smaller features bundled with this update:
- Scanning for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices is now available as an experimental Origin Trial.
- An upgraded version of CORS (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing), which prevents various types of phishing and security attacks, is now available as 'Out-Of-Renderer CORS'. It's still behind a flag, though, and not enabled by default.
- An update to the Wake Lock API, which fixes some security and privacy issues with the original implementation, is now available as an experimental Origin Trial.
- HTML lists can now use any characters for the bullet points, including -, +, ★, and others.
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.