Chrome 78 Hits Desktop With Deeper Focus On Security, Minor Changes

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Google has officially announced the rollout of Chrome 78 for desktop platforms, delivering a wealth of security updates and a few new features. Because this update is primarily focused on fixing security vulnerabilities and squashing bugs, there aren't many user-facing features to discuss. But that doesn't mean none exist.

This update finally delivers a full integration of password checking tools and starts the rollout of better cross-device functionality. Additionally, it kicks off a more comprehensive theming tool and makes navigating multiple tabs easier.

Chrome 78 for desktop brings no fewer than 37 security fixes, including 21 that earned their discoverer's awards. Of those, Google has only marked three as "high" level security risks.

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The biggest change to security is going to be the integration of Google's Password Checkup tool. First released as a Chrome extension, the tool now works as a built-in feature.

Summarily, that enables Google to check the integrity of log-in credentials whenever a user logs into a third-party site. Chrome sends an alert to users where log-in credentials may be compromised. The browser presents that via a red shield icon in the Omnibox and an automatic pop-up message. Users can click to ignore that message for a given site or close it. The prompt urges users to change their password.

Uncompromised credentials, based on Google's assessment, show a green shield icon instead.

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Google isn't provided with the plain text of those credentials either. So the system isn't just feeding Google more information.

Other Chrome 78 desktop features aren't about security and probably aren't widespread yet

Google didn't leave out user-facing features entirely in pursuit of security with version 78 though. The primary drawback here is that other features don't appear to be widespread with this update. The implication is that Google wants to test the new features on a smaller audience before making them generally available.

The company has adjusted its customization tool — found on the New Tab page at the bottom-right-hand side of the UI. That's likely the most obvious change and now includes more themes, with more options and a full-blown color picker for some users. That means users can color their browser to whatever hue suits their personality.

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Included alongside that, Google has tweaked the controls over shortcuts that appear on new tabs just below the search box. Users can choose to let Google continue curating shortcuts based on their own use, curate the shortcuts themselves, or hide them altogether.

When it comes to navigating between tabs, Google is beginning to roll out adjustments to tab previews. Namely, that's the UI that's shown when users hover a mouse over an open tab. Now, the UI doesn't consist of a trimmed back hint dialogue. Google is replacing that with a Material Design 2.0 card that presents almost identical information. The key difference is that the card is better thought-out and much easier to read.

The final two updates build on previous additions or changes in Chrome. The first allows users in Chrome to right-click a phone number and have it sent to their syncing mobile device. The feature builds from the Send-this-page feature that was widely added in Chrome 77. The chief difference is that it now works with phone numbers too.

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The last notable feature is an under-the-hood change that some users will definitely notice. Web pages will no longer be able to generate pop-ups or new dialogue when users leave a page.

The rollout

Chrome 78 for desktop platforms include updates for Windows, macOS, and — typically — Linux. Generally, desktop platforms start seeing the software arrive ahead of others but this time, the update for Android to Chrome 78 actually began rolling out a few hours earlier. But that update will take several weeks to hit every smartphone user. Chrome for desktop is slated to take a few days and up to a couple of weeks, according to Google.

The Chrome OS update to version 78 will undoubtedly take longer. Google has that scheduled to land just a week after other platforms. However, the search giant has consistently launched the platforms firmware a few days to a couple of weeks late over the past several months. So users shouldn't expect changes to their Chromebooks or Chrome OS desktop boxes and tablets for at least a couple of weeks.

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Junior Editor

Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]

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