Another month, a new Chrome release: After the regular beta test period, Google has just started releasing version 88 of the browser, and there are quite a few improvements and significant changes on board. The release improves some password protection features and paves the way for more web apps in the Play Store, but it also says goodbye to FTP connections and puts the final nail in Flash Player’s coffin.
As we already covered, Chrome 88 comes with a number of new password protection features. In addition to checking stored passwords for breaches, the browser will now also warn you when you want to save a password that is considered too weak to be secure. If you need to change the passwords you have already saved, a new button in the built-in password manager will now allow you to do so for the first supported services. On Android, biometric authentication for password autofill is scheduled to come soon.
Manifest V3 support
Chrome 88 is the first version that fully supports Google̵
Google will begin approving and sending the first extensions using the new manifesto after the release of Chrome 88. Right now, Google has not communicated the inevitable shutdown date for Manifest V2 and the webRequest API. Other Chromium-based browser manufacturers such as Vivaldi and Opera promised to continue supporting the older API.
Read more about Manifest V3 in our coverage here.
Play Store billing for web apps
Chrome 88 adds support for Play Store purchases in online apps as part of the Payment Request API. On Android, this allows websites to use the Google Play Billing Library. This is important for developers who want to monetize their online apps in the Play Store, as the policy prohibits in-app payments using other billing methods. Developers interested in implementing this can find more details here.
Flash and FTP settlement
Similarly, all support for FTP has been removed from Chrome, after the termination of the feature in Chrome 80. FTP is still a widely used protocol for accessing and transferring files via the Internet, but browsers have always been poorly equipped for file browsing. There are much better client applications for FTP connections, such as Open Source FileZilla.
Screenshots in incognito
Screenshots in Incognito work as expected in Chrome 88.
For a long time, Chrome did not allow you to take screenshots while browsing Incognito to prevent you from storing certain potentially infringing content, but there are circumstances when you want to retain information from Incognito tabs. Chrome 88 is finally possible thanks to a new # incognito screenshot flag that brings back screenshot support to Incognito mode when enabled. It is not clear when the functionality will roll out to everyone by default.
If you’re like me, you’ll have dozens of tabs open during a regular browsing session, and this is where tab search can come in handy. The feature has already been available in Chrome OS for a while, and is now finally jumping to other desktop operating systems with version 88. You need to enable it in Chrome: // flag under # enable-tab-search (copy and paste link address in the address field). After restarting your browser, you will find a new icon on the right side of the tab bar that you can click to see an overview of all your open tabs, including a search box. You can also drag it up via Ctrl + Shift + A.
Tab Search is limited to desktop versions of the browser at this time, and we do not know if Google will ever extend it to mobile.
Google is working on adding tutorial videos to your browser. You can currently enable them via the #video-tutorials flag, but right now they only consist of placeholder videos from the Google Go app. They are visible as cards on the new tab page, between the most visited sites and the Discover feed.
The titles already suggest what content we can expect in the future: These are “How to use Chrome”, “How to download content for later,” How to search with Chrome, “” How to search with your voice, and “How to use incognito.” The videos is limited to Android, and Google will probably only activate the tutorials for everyone when the right content is available.
Apart from these major tweaks to Chrome, there are a few minor changes:
- Chrome has long supported dark themes, including Microsoft’s on Windows 10, but some quirks were never addressed on the desktop OS until now. Dark mode finally darkens the scroll bars in several places, such as Settings, History, Bookmarks, and other internal Web sites.
- Chrome 88 drops support for macOS 10.10 Yosemite and now requires macOS 10.11 El Capitan or later.
- Chrome has previously added left and right buttons to navigate through tabs, and a new #scrollable-tabstrip-buttons-flag is available that keeps the buttons visible at all times.
The scrollable tabstrip buttons have flags.
- Google’s Legacy Browser Support extension, which allowed IT executives to set rules to open other browsers automatically when certain pages load, is no longer supported from Chrome 88. Most of the extension’s functionality is now built into Chrome directly.
- Links that open in a new tab ( codes with “target = _blank”) behave automatically as if “rel = noopener” is set. This will help prevent so-called tab-napping attacks.
- WebXR experiences (AR and VR content) can now dynamically scale the content, which in some cases can improve image conditions.
- Web taps may enable a new feature called Origin Isolation, which increases the security of a page in exchange for certain APIs not being available.
- A new #destroy-profile-on-browser-close flag is available as “[releases] memory and other resources when the last browser window is closed, “instead of by default, which occurs when the Chrome browser shuts down completely.
- A new # permissions prediction flag is available that switches to a less intrusive page permissions interface, when Chrome detects that you’re less likely to grant that permissions (e.g., a site you’ve never visited before requesting alerts).
- The AddEventListener class got a new AbortSignal option to make it easier to close EventListeners when it is no longer needed.
- Web Components v0 support has been removed from Chrome.
- Google now allows developers to enable or disable pointer acceleration and other underlying platform changes. This is especially valuable for games.
- A new CSS feature class for aspect ratio allows developers to specify aspect ratio for any item, not just images.
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