Chrome 67 Exits Beta With Emoji Shortcut & API Changes

As of yesterday, version 67 of Google's Chrome Browser is officially leaving beta and rolling out more widely, bringing API changes and a new shortcut for special symbols and emoji. As is usually the case, the update is coming to Windows, Mac, and Linux first, with Chrome OS and Android devices set to follow. Of course, the big changes are chiefly under the hood but the biggest change for end-users is going to be that new shortcut. That's activated by enabling a hidden setting, referred to as a "flag," which can be found by typing "chrome://flags/#enable-emoji-context-menu" into the URL bar. Once enabled, users will be able to right-click, or Alt-click on Chrome OS, in a text field to bring up a box of emoji or special symbols to choose from. Meanwhile, users should also notice an option to move straight to extensions in the settings menu from the navigation drawer.

Setting aside user-facing changes, Google has also expanded the trial of its Site Isolation feature. That's intended to further enhance privacy and safety by fully isolating each tab to its own process. That should help with several types of security issue, including highly publicized CPU vulnerabilities such as Spectre. Chrome 67 also marks the start of stable channel testing of the WebXR Device API, which Google hopes to use in order to unify VR or AR web browsing across every platform. That includes both mobile and PC platforms. Alongside that is the inclusion of a Generic Sensor API which allows websites to access available accelerometer, gyroscope, orientation sensor, and motion sensors. Chrome will also now be able to process "mousedown," "auxclick," and "mouseup" mouse events for those users who prefer a more complex computer mouse - effectively allowing for those with a larger number of buttons. Last but not least, Web Authentication API has been brought to bear with this update, building on the previous Credential Management API. It's basically a stronger API for allowing websites to directly interact with security convenience features such as Chrome's password manager and Google Smart Lock. The update brings a PublicKeyCredential that lets web-based apps both create and use credentials for authenticating users.

It bears mention that the rollout beyond the above-mentioned platforms can take quite some time. While the turnaround between releases from one platform to another tends to take between a few days and several weeks, that's going to depend on a variety of factors. Although Chrome OS and Android are each predominantly unified, some older devices will lag behind the rest and even the region a user is in can sometimes affect the rollout. So there's no guarantee that the changes to Chrome will be deployed as soon as some might like. Meanwhile, some Windows users are reportedly not seeing the new emoji-based Chrome flag either, so these changes won't necessarily hit everybody right away regardless.

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