Google's Chrome browser is getting a relatively massive update to version 76 starting today, with a ton of new features in tow. In fact, aside from some behind-the-scenes changes that should make everything run smoother — including a change to how often WebAPKs will update — this should represent one of the most feature-rich updates to-date, based on the company's release notes.
Among the under-the-hood changes that users should notice with the update, the search giant has removed a few hardware-specific sensor API, adjusted lazy loading in favor of a new feature policy, and made a few other alterations that make things easier for developers.
The company has removed the "mini-infobar " that used to appear along the bottom of pages too, specifically in Android. That was typically used to inform users that a page could be downloaded as a PWA but there is now a PWA install button embedded in the URL Omnibox across platforms instead. That's a straightforward interface with a button containing a 'plus' symbol and the word "Install" to the right of the URL address.
There are a ton of new user-facing features
Websites viewed in desktop Chrome will now follow the color scheme of the desktop operating system preferences now too.
In effect, Google has added a "prefers-color-scheme media query that will automatically allow adjusting of a website based on the user's preferences at the system level. So if the darker theme preference has been chosen in the system settings, that change will carry over to websites in Chrome — where it only applied to the UI of Chrome with previous updates.
Now, that feature is going to be website dependent, meaning that a website's developer is going to have to have included the feature for it to be seen. But that's something that should pick up over time since related changes are planned for every variant of Chrome with manual activation.
By adding it in, web developers will be able to match the theming that their users already want to use and do use on their desktop, without the need for them to manually enable it. That also means those pages will continue looking great since they'll be set by the developer.
Another major change with this update is that sites will no longer be able to detect — and often punish — users for accessing a given page while in the browser's more private incognito mode.
While there are still some ways for sites to block users from accessing a page, that means that most sites that don't allow access or which limit access based on that metric will no longer be able to. For most users, that's going to mostly apply to pages with paywalls that limit the number of free visits on a per-user basis.
Google notes that there are no fewer than 43 security patches and fixes rolling out with Chrome 76, on top of all the other changes listed above. Not all of those are individually detailed since that would pose a security risk until the update finishes landing for everybody but at least five of those are designated as high-severity risks.
At least three of those five are use-after-free vulnerabilities too, meaning that they potentially allow resources to be hijacked once freed up by the browser. Four of those that have been detailed only represent a medium risk while those remaining are all designated as low-severity risks.
The biggest problem that was patched snagged a whopping $10,000 reward for its finder and is associated with the offline page fetcher.
All of that effectively means that Chrome will be much safer after the update, as well as more feature-rich and user-friendly. As is always the case, the update could take up to a few weeks to finish rolling out so it's something users will want to watch for.
This update applies directly to Windows, macOS, and Linux installations of Google Chrome, with updates for Android and Chrome OS still in the works. The latter of those is currently scheduled for August 6.