Desktop Chrome 84 Update Brings Security, Enhanced Web Apps & More

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Google is now rolling the update to desktop Chrome 84, delivering a plethora of security fixes and user-facing features. While the number of security fixes continues to dwindle in each subsequent update, this one doesn't shirk on that front. In fact, there are now fewer than 38 security fixes in this version, according to Google's announcement blog post.

Of the security patches, Google indicates that only one is critical but as many as seven are high-severity fixes. The sole critical patch applies to a problem with "Heap buffer overflow" in background fetch processes.

Also on security, extensions will no longer be able to make changes to the search engine or New Tab UI without explicit permission. And support for Web OTP API has been added. The latter change ensures that the browser can better enter 2FA codes that are sent via messaging. That's after the user approves automatic form filling.

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Last but not least, Chrome 84 will now warn users about dangerous or unsecured downloads, blocking those until users approve them.

So what about user-facing features in Chrome 84 for desktop?

For desktop platforms, Chrome 84 brings a number of changes. The first of those was spotted way back in April 2019 and essentially changes how cookies in Chrome work. Namely, it introduces SameSite cookie labeling by default. That blocks cookies from one site when connected to another — specifically where they'd be used under a range of conditions that would typically make them vulnerable.

SameSite cookies will be introduced gradually over the release of Chrome 84 but another user-facing feature will be more prominent. Specifically, the company is no blocking certain notifications and permission requests — stacking atop Quieter Notifications UI introduced in Chrome 80. The change should not only help users be less annoyed by site prompts but also prevent unwanted granting of unnecessary permissions.

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There are more than a handful of other changes coming here too. Not least of all is the addition of shortcuts to PWAs. Now, those applets can be right-clicked — or long-pressed in Android — once downloaded to pull up shortcuts similar to those seen in Android.

Otherwise, Google is also stacking in performance-improving features. Among those, Chrome will no determine when a browser window is partially covered, it will suspend work behind the front window. Or at least for some users. The feature will roll out more widely in Chrome 85. Similarly, Web Animations API has been improved to better save space associated with the animations.

When is this coming everywhere else?

Generally, the update to Chrome for Android and iOS follow very shortly after the desktop release. As noted above, at least a couple of features here also apply to mobile. So that trend is not likely going to change with this update. Users on Chrome OS for Chromebooks, conversely, have a bit of waiting to do still.

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The Chromebook update for Chrome 84, like other Chrome OS updates, will likely take another week or two to start rolling out. Then, it will take several weeks before that rollout is finalized. Similarly, this update for Windows, Mac, and Linux isn't going to arrive everywhere all at once. So users will want to keep an eye out for it if they haven't received it yet.