Today Google is announcing a handful of changes to its popular Chrome browser, including a whole pile of enhancements to tabbed navigation across platforms, the QR code page sharing feature it rolled out last month, the ability to save edited PDFs from right inside Chrome, plus performance improvements that will make the next Chrome release up to 10% faster. As usual for Google, though, some of these changes are older things that already rolled out behind feature flags, but now they're official.
Chrome has had its password check feature for a while, but it isn't quite the same across platforms. The Android version of Chrome is starting to approach parity with the desktop version when it comes to password security, though, as a couple of features spotted in testing on a recent Canary release bring the desktop "check passwords" feature and "safety check" to Android.
For a long time now, Google has been trying to make the web faster and more consistent for mobile devices. Earlier this year, it introduced Core Web Vitals as a new benchmark for making fast websites. Core Web Vitals has been playing a role in search rankings since May, and soon Chrome will use those statistics to directly label high-quality web pages, starting with how fast they are.
Autofill makes life easy in an internet full of sign-up forms, but some of those forms can be nasty little — well, some of them are quite lengthy — things that can spill private information all over the place. Starting in Chrome 86, Google's browser will prevent users from utilizing Autofill if the form transmit through an unsafe path.
Google has tried on and off for years to hide full URLs in Chrome's address bar, because apparently long web addresses are scary and evil. Despite the public backlash that came after every previous attempt, Google is pressing on with new plans to hide all parts of web addresses except the domain name in Chrome 86, this time accompanied by a hover animation.
Platforms live or die on the backs of developers, without which we wouldn't have apps or services to run on them. Microsoft had that figured out years ago, and Google has learned all about it when it comes to Android. Now Google is stepping up its efforts when it comes to developing for (and on) Chrome OS, highlighting Chrome OS's new customizable Linux terminal, while also announcing support for the Android Emulator on select Chromebooks and a whole new website for ChromeOS developers, plus a handful of smaller changes.
Chrome Web Store apps have been flailing for a while now. Google announced in 2016 that these Chrome Apps would be phased out by 2018 — that obviously didn't happen. Earlier in the year, Google committed to a timeline to slowly end support for them, but the company has just released a revised schedule that extends end-of-life dates on all platforms due to "feedback from customers and partners."
Chromebooks were initially designed to be lightweight web-browsing laptops but gradually started gaining more features, especially when it came to offline computing. However, unlike macOS or Linux, Chrome OS doesn't have the ability to locally run Windows apps, which can sometimes be essential, especially when it comes to corporate apps. Back in June, Parallels and Google announced a partnership stating Chromebooks would soon be able to run Windows apps "seamlessly." The promise is now closer to reality, with the Parallels Desktop for Chromebook Enterprise set to be released this fall.
If you have a Windows PC, you're probably familiar with Microsoft's aggressive marketing tactics when it comes to its browser. The company automatically adds Edge to your taskbar after some updates, and it even sends you popups when you still won't use its Internet Explorer successor. It looks like Google is considering to introduce a similarly aggravating "feature" to Chrome for Android, as 9to5Google found out. It's working on push notifications that encourage you to use its browser when you haven't opened it in a while.
Chrome 84 is exhibiting stability issues for some people on Android. Whenever they close their last incognito tab, the browser freezes and eventually displays the dreaded "Chrome isn't responding" dialog. The bug seems to bog down the whole interface, as neither home nor back buttons/gestures work while you wait for the popup to appear. Other people even report that Chrome just freezes out of the blue for them, with no incognito tabs involved.