Chrome 86 was a fairly massive update, with support for the Native File System API, various interface improvements, and new experiments to try out. Just a week later, Chrome 87 has now entered the Beta Channel. There's a new PDF viewer, performance improvements for sites using cookies, and much more.
New PDF viewer
The PDF viewer in Chrome has received small improvements over the years, including annotation and form editing, but Chrome 87 has more drastic changes in store. There's a new #pdf-viewer-update flag that turns on a revamped PDF viewer with long-awaited features.
Left: Old viewer; Right: New viewer
The updated viewer doesn't look too different than the old one at first glance, but there are a few key differences. There's now a side panel that displays a list of pages, so you can see a preview of each page and navigate through them more easily. The existing chapter list, which used to be a dropdown menu, has been moved to the same section. If you don't need to see the list, you can hide it by clicking the new hamburger button at the top-left corner.
Two-page mode in the new viewer
The PDF viewer can also now display two pages side-by-side, with a new option in the overflow menu. The floating action buttons for zoom and fit have also been moved to the top bar, so they are visible at all times, instead of popping in and out when you move your mouse.
The new viewer should be enabled for everyone by default once Chrome 87 leaves beta, but Google's plans could still change. Just as before, PDF viewing is not available on Chrome for Android or iOS, only on desktop platforms.
Cookie Store API
Cookies are no longer the only way websites can store data locally, but they are still one of the most popular methods. Believe it or not, there's no browser-provided method to access and edit specific cookies by their name or value — sites have to parse the list of cookies themselves, sometimes with inefficient methods that slow down code execution. Now, 26 years after the first browser with cookie support was released (Netscape 0.9), this is finally changing.
As always, this update includes changes for both users and developers. Here are some smaller changes included in Chrome 87:
- Chrome is dropping support for the -webkit-font-size-delta CSS property, which is rarely used and was never standardized across browsers.
- A new flag forces servers hosted locally (127.0.0.1/localhost) or on an intranet to explicitly opt-in to connections from the public internet. Google hopes this will "mitigate the risks associated with unintentional exposure of devices and servers on a client’s internal network to the web at large."
- A new addition to the getUserMedia() API allows Chrome to pan and tilt a connected camera, ideal for conference calls and other uses.
- The new Steams API provides "ubiquitous, interoperable primitives for creating, composing, and consuming streams of data," and is enabled by default in Chrome 87.
- The new WebXR Depth API allows easier calculation of depth information for physics.
- Cross-origin Isolation is now enabled by default, so sites can safely use advanced APIs if they opt into new security restrictions.
- New CSS Grid debugging options and an emulator for the Web Authentication API are available in the Developer Tools.
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