Chrome 87 dropped back in November, and with it, a load of improvements to the browser’s speed and battery. In fact, it featured the largest jump in performance that we’ve seen in Chrome for years! Now, Chrome 88 is rolling out and has shifted gears to focus heavily on security features, though it takes on several other tasks as well. Let’s take a look at what you’ll receive when you upgrade to Chrome 88.
A heavy focus on Security
We previously covered how Adobe Flash support was dead and gone as of December 31, 2020, and with this update, Chrome has officially placed the final nail in the coffin for using it. Going hand-in-hand with it is FTP support. Beginning with this version of the browser, support for the protocol is completely disabled as a security measure. It’s also being disabled because hardly anyone used it. Everyone is using Filezilla and other FTP clients instead!
Blocked, mixed, and insecure downloads will also be blocked by default beginning today. Basically, any file being accessed from an HTTPS URL, but being served from an HTTP URL is seen as a mixed or insecure download and will be blocked for the user’s wellbeing. The image below illustrates the file types you’ll need to know about!
Another major implementation is that of Manifest v3. This is a new extension platform that makes Chrome extensions more secure, performant, and privacy-respecting by default. It’s also highly controversial for adblocker extensions, but we’ll get into that later today!
target="_blank" to force the link to open in a new tab or window. It can be a convenient way to link their readers to external content without driving them away from their website, but it also provides an opportunity for threat actors to redirected Chrome users to potentially malicious URLs. The new update to Chrome will instead force
target="_blank" to behave as
rel="noopener" by default.
One of my favorite new features of this release, though it’s seemingly inconsequential, is that of the new permission chips. Any time you receive a new permission request from a site, it will pop up less intrusively in your Chrome Omnibox now instead of as an overlay to your browser.
Web App Features
Web apps have been sneaking their way into the Google Play Store for some time now. However, they’ve been lacking in some areas compared to their “Android App” counterparts. One major change in Chrome 88 sees the introduction of the Digital Goods API, which will allow web apps published to the Play Store to utilize Play Store billing just like regular apps!
Additionally, the newly added Origin Isolation will allow web apps to choose to increase a page’s security in exchange for giving up access to certain APIs. This one is more so for developers to know, but it will eventually affect end users when it becomes implemented enough.
Dark Theme Improvements
Chrome OS has been working on Dark and Light themes respectively for its OS interface, and with that, the Chrome browser has needed to adapt to meet that styling. Chrome 88 improves Dark Mode for form controls and scroll bars. This is just one step closer to web pages being able to be fully viewed in dark mode natively in the browser without much coding by its developers. The moment you flip that Dark Mode toggle in your Chrome OS quick settings menu, the Chrome browser should now look like it fits in a little more with the motif.
WebXR provides a way for augmented reality and virtual reality content to be viewed through the web browser using a compatible headset. Now that Phone AR and VR is all but dead, Chrome could very well be the future of such experiences. Chrome 88 introduces AR Lighting Estimation, which will allow AR and VR content to utilize better lighting and fit into your environment more naturally. We’re keeping a close eye on this tech and will be delivering more news to you regarding it as it becomes available!
A few more notable changes include Tab Search coming closer to release (You can now enable it via the flag chrome://flags/#enable-tab-search), a Pointer Lock API which allows mouse acceleration to be disabled in games to improve performance, and more. You can view the full changelog if you want, but we just wanted to cover the stuff that most people would care about.