Right on time, Chrome 84 began shipping yesterday and we fully expect Chrome OS 84 to arrive exactly one week later. One of the best parts of both the Chrome browser and Chrome OS as an operating system is the frequent update schedule that sees a new update arrive every 6 weeks. This update schedule allows Google to stay on top of the rapidly evolving web and continue delivering rapid updates and fixes to the world’s most-used browser. There are always a slew of bug fixes and security patches, but there are also new features that ship. Here are a few that are most interesting this time around.
App Icon Shortcuts
Probably one of the biggest new features to ship in this update is the ability for web apps to include desktop/home screen shortcuts. Just like we see in most native apps across multiple operating systems, web apps will now have the option to display quick shortcuts when long-pressed on mobile or right-clicked on the desktop. We talked about this feature being in the works back in May of this year and it seems it is now ready for prime time. As web developers begin taking advantage, PWAs will have the same access to app shortcuts as their native counterparts and that’s a big step forward for productivity.
Web One-time-passwords (OTP)
Web OTP will be a big frustration saver as well. At some point, it is highly likely that you’ve been asked to verify your identity when trying to log in to a service on the web. There are usually options, and one of them is a code sent to your personal device for this verification. You get the text, you switch to your text app, you copy the code, and you return to where you were, hoping that the page didn’t reload or get closed. There’s a lot of room for things to go wrong. The new Web OTP API will eventually allow for this to not be a bother any longer. Instead of all the app switching, copying and pasting, the website will be able to listen for that text message confirmation and immediately put that code in place without any further effort from the user.
Better web animations
The web is far from the simple text and photos playground it once was. Where native applications used to be the only place where smooth, intuitive UI animations were expected, we’re seeing more and more of this graphic interface on the web every day. Those animations come at a performance cost, however, and those costs need to be kept under control so they don’t wreck the entire browsing experience.
Chrome 84 is bringing a ton of new animation tools for developers that will allow for smoother operation, better memory management, and better overall control and performance. As these animation capabilities become the norm, expect to see more engrossing movement across the web and in PWAs as developers begin to fully leverage these new tools.
Wake lock for websites
Another big update in Chrome 84 is the ability for sites to invoke a wake lock when appropriate. This does exactly what it sounds like, keeping your screen from going dim or going to sleep. The reasoning is simple, too. For things like cooking from a new recipe where users are doing longer tasks while referencing the screen on their device, they may need the screen to stay awake for longer than their standard setting allows. No one wants to turn off screen lock for a single task, so this will allow websites to have an on-scsreen setting to prevent those pesky screen locks.
Offline content handling
As we’re seeing, the trend moving forward is to give websites and web apps more and more capabilities over time. With that being the case, these web apps need to be able to store and serve up offline content in many scenarios. While this has been possible before now, it’s not always been clear for users what content is available offline and where exactly that content lives. With the new Content Indexing API, Chrome can allow web apps to clearly and plainly surface the content that is available to the user offline when an internet connection is not possible.
Same-site cookies and quiet notifications return
With the critical nature of the pandemic back in April, Google decided to pause the SameSite cookie labeling to prevent issues during a stressful, scary time as we all began to cope with COVID-19. They made it clear, however, that this restriction would return in July and they’ve made good on that promise with Chrome 84. We covered a bit more about this back in Chrome OS 80 and you can read more if you like over there in that post.
Additionally, Google is pushing their quieter site notifications initiative a bit further in this update as well. This was initially implemented in Chrome 80, but we’re seeing Google get a bit more aggressive with this feature and automatically enrolling sites that abuse the web notifications feature to trick users into signing up for alerts they don’t really want. Here’s Google’s take on why they are implementing this:
Abusive notification prompts are one of the top user complaints we receive about Chrome. A large percentage of notification requests and notifications come from a small number of abusive sites. Protecting users from these sites improves user safety & privacy on the web, and makes for a better browsing experience.– via the Chromium Blog
Only a small fraction of websites will be affected by this change but we expect the impact on notification volumes will be significant for some users.
There are obviously a TON more updates, bug fixes and small, behind-the-scenes things Google rolled out with Chrome 84. I’m sure as time allows, we’ll come across multiple things over the next few weeks that are new and weren’t highlighted here. To stay up to date on all that and all the things we find that are coming in future versions of both Chrome and Chrome OS, make sure to subscribe to the newsletter to be on top of everything here at Chrome Unboxed.
SOURCE: Google Developer Blog