The Chrome 69 update is now beginning to roll out and although the anticipated Linux apps for Chrome OS devices don’t appear to be among those, plenty of U.I. changes and adjustments to underlying protocols are incorporated. Of course, the current release only applies to Chrome on its respective beta channels so that could change by the time the stable version hits Chromebooks and other devices. In the meantime, among the biggest user-facing changes is the addition of picture-in-picture mode for media playback. The new feature functions similarly to how YouTube works on Android and is enabled by default on desktop platforms. The primary difference is that for Chrome it is operated by a menu option on video’s themselves. The video is then moved to a much smaller window in the bottom-right-hand corner and will continue playing. Users can interact with the displayed media to pause, stop, or return playback to full size. The originating tab for the video will also feature a new icon when picture-in-picture is enabled.
Along the same lines, the latest update to the browser adds support for AV1 Video decoding. No support is provided for encoding so users won’t be able to natively create videos in that format. However, playback of those videos will be possible. The new codec is much more efficient than previous encoding methods but, as with the picture-in-picture feature, is only appearing on the desktop variations of the updated software. For the mobile side of things, users will notice a couple of differences from the last version of Chrome. First, new CSS functions and a new meta tag have been added to support the use of additional screen real estate available on mobile devices will display notches. For full page web applications, that will be particularly useful since the entire display can show content while objects such as controls for video playback can be moved next to the cutout section of the device. Meanwhile, the update delivers what the Chrome team calls “Chrome Duet.” With that, the Home, search, menu, and navigation is moved to the bottom of the screen, leaving the URL bar remaining situated at the top of the page.
A voice dictation button has been added to the status bar on Chrome OS devices and pressing the Search and ‘D’ keys simultaneously will bring up the feature as well. The files app is also gaining native support for G Suite features and external keyboards can now be remapped for ease of use directly in the settings menu. Finally, several security-related changes are arriving as well. Chrome 69 keeps the previously implemented “not secure” message in the URL bar for HTTP sites with the removal of the previously implemented but now redundant “secure” dialog for HTTPS web pages. Beyond that, the browser should be much more stable on Windows machines following the update since it stops third-party web apps from injecting code into Chrome.