Chrome will be gaining official support for playback of FLAC files when version 56 of the popular browser from Google hits the official channel in the next week or so. Support for FLAC files has been a highly requested feature for Chrome since back in 2011, and work on the feature began in September of last year, hand in hand with Mozilla as they developed it for their Firefox browser. As the fruit of those labors, Chrome will be getting native support for in-browser FLAC playback when version 56 hits the stable channel, while Firefox will be getting it later in January.
Version 56 of Chrome is currently in the beta channel, but does not have full FLAC support just yet, so users who give the latest beta a try in order to get a taste of FLAC support in Chrome may find themselves dealing with a bug here and there. Either way, the feature is almost ready for primetime, should be mostly usable at this point, and for those willing to wait for Chrome 56 to move into the official stable channel, will be deeply integrated, and should function just as simply as playing an MP3 or WAV file in the browser. Google Play Music, it should be noted, has always degraded FLAC files when streaming them to a device or browser, and there is no indication that this will no longer be the case with the release of Chrome 56.
A quick look at the feature requests and bug tracking for Chromium, the open-source project that Chrome is based on, will show exactly how popular the demand for FLAC playback has been. FLAC, which stands for free lossless audio codec, is a super-high quality audio encoding method that allows compatible equipment and programs to play audio recordings at the exact quality they were recorded, with no compression or noise. There have been workarounds for the lack of FLAC support in Chrome for a while now, but the addition of official support for the format will make it easier than ever to use FLAC files with the browser, and likely popularize the format at least a little, since users will no longer have to put in much work to reap the benefits of the high-fidelity format.