During a recent audit, Google discovered that some third-party Chromium-based browsers were able to provide their users with integration to Chrome Sync, Click to Call, and other features exclusive to Google’s version of the browser. As a result, a small percentage of users were able to sign in to their Google account via the browser’s wrapper and sync their data! Their bookmarks, among other things, were able to be added to the overall experience in the same way that they would be in regular ol’ Google Chrome.
Google has taken the open-source code for Chromium and has put countless hours on top of it with their own in-house development teams to create experiences that are unique and competitive. The third-party browsers which were able to access Chrome Sync were not identified publicly via the Chromium Blog, but as a result of this, Google is limiting access to its private Chrome APIs starting March 15, 2021.
The company reassures users who were able to benefit from this accidental access during this short period will continue to be able to access their full account data via the web or the official Google Chrome browser. Additionally, Chrome Sync is now optional and not required, so users who want to use Chrome without synchronizing to the cloud can do so, though the benefits will be limited. Google Takeout also offers users the ability to snag a copy of their data for safekeeping.
This is an interesting and strange situation, but it’s good that Google has taken control of the situation. Say what you will about Google, but they do put a lot of hard work in with very intelligent people to come up with these unique and competitive features. If I created something, I wouldn’t want others to take it and use it elsewhere. That’s kind of like eating a McDonald’s burger at Starbucks – It may be cool, but don’t be that guy.