It has been about a month since Chrome 85 appeared in the Beta Channel, and now Google is starting to roll it out to the stable branch. There aren't many easily-visible changes, but as the old Transformers theme says, there's more than meets the eye.
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.
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.
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.
Chrome 84 was released a little over a month ago, and now Chrome 85 has graduated to the Beta Channel. This release mostly focuses on under-the-hood features and new APIs for developers to use, but there are still a few interesting changes worth noting. Let's take a look!
The first Android version to support 64-bit architecture was Android 5.0 Lollipop, introduced back in November 2014. Since then, more and more 64-bit processors shipped, and today, virtually all Android devices are capable of running 64-bit software (excluding one or two or more oddballs). However, Google Chrome has never made the jump and is only available in a 32-bit flavor, potentially leading to some unnecessary security and performance degradations. That's finally changing: Starting with Chrome 85, phones running Android 10 and higher will automatically receive a 64-bit version.
Last week, Google began testing a new change in Chrome Dev/Canary 85, that hides the full address of the current page, only showing the website domain (e.g. "google.com") at all times. The move attracted a fair amount of backlash, and now, the company has revealed more details about its plans and how it will address criticism.
Anyone who has ever used a web browser on a desktop OS has probably come across this at some point: You want to drag and drop an image or another file onto a website to upload it, only to realize too late that the site doesn't support uploading that way — instead, the website gives way to a preview of the file you just let go of. In a worst-case scenario, you might even find all the forms you've filled in cleared. Thanks to Microsoft Edge developer Eric Lawrence, this will soon be a thing of the past: Starting with Chrome 85, a file you accidentally drop onto unsupported websites will open in a new tab instead.