Desktop Chrome 73 Arrives With Dark Mode, Auto Picture-in-Picture

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Chrome version 73 is beginning its rollout today bringing new options for dark mode, changes to media playback, and several under-the-hood improvements, according to the latest release notes from Google. As is usually the case, this Stable Channel update can be applied to Windows, Linux, and macOS systems.

The biggest change here is obviously going to be the changes allowing users to flip the switch to dark mode but that will only be usable on macOS for the time being. As expected, the feature works using the system-level settings on the device being used, so turning it on isn't too difficult but there does seem to be some problem on the Windows side of things and there's no word on when Linux systems will see the change.

To activate the feature – or partial feature, for Windows users – users simply need to go to their system's settings for color preferences. That can be found under the Apple menu in System Preferences for macOS users and more specifically in the "General" control panel under the "Appearance" section. The change applies to the entire UI with this update but not to web content.

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On Windows 10, that can be found under the Settings app's "Personalization" section, within the "Colors subheading but the change only applies to the tab bar and not to the overall UI. It also only applies the color scheme from the selected system color as opposed to a true dark mode. The discrepancy hasn't been explained by the company but likely comes down to relatively vague compatibility problems reported back in January.

So what else is new?

Alongside the 60 listed security updates included with version 73 for desktop platforms – including six noted rated at a high severity level – Google has implemented around 41 new features in Chrome 73. Users aren't likely to notice the vast majority of those since many are changes behind the scenes or other API alterations but there are a few that should become immediately apparent to most users.

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One of the biggest changes noted in the documentation for the Chrome platform is the introduction of "Auto Picture-in-Picture." That will automatically put videos that are played back within an installed progressive web application (PWA) into picture-in-picture mode when the 'visibility' of the PWA changes.

A 'skip ad' button will be shown in Picture-in-Picture mode too and that should function on the user end precisely as the name implies.

The Badging API, conversely, ensures that web apps can set an app-wide bade to notify users of notifications at the system level without having to crop up a full notification pane.

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Finally, keyboard-based multimedia keys should now be supported anywhere on the web where Media Sessions API has been implemented with the exception of Linux machines. There's still no timeline for systems that aren't running Windows or macOS just yet.

Android & Chrome OS

The update to Chrome 73 for desktop computers should mean that mobile platforms such as Android and Chrome OS will see incoming updates over the next couple of weeks. Dark mode for Android is presently expected to arrive in that update as well. Although it's less clear whether or not Chrome OS will see the same changes, there have been previous reports of a dark system UI and other related changes in past reports so it isn't out of the question.

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