Chrome 88 Started Rolling Out As Beta, What’s New?

Today, on January 19, 2021, Google will release Chrome 88 on the stable channel. Some cool changes are included in the latest browser, including an enhanced dark theme for Windows 10 and the beginning of less intrusive permission prompts. The highlights are here.

Better Support for the Dark Theme on Windows 10

Windows 10’s system-wide dark theme has been supported by Chrome for a while, but Chrome 88 makes it a little better. Dark Theme now refers to scroll bars on many of the internal pages of Chrome. Settings, bookmarks, history, new tab page, and more are included in that. On websites that support dark themes, it’s still not present.

No More FTP on Chrome by Google

With Chrome 88, FTP URLs are no longer supported by Google Chrome.

FTP support is a legacy feature which does not support encrypted links (no FTPS). Unlike with encrypted HTTPS or FTPS where this is not possible, an attacker could modify files you are downloading in transit. As Chrome and other browsers are shifting towards a web that is always encrypted, it makes sense to drop old protocols like this.

For a while, Google has been working on removing FTP from Chrome, but it was still available to some individuals and could be enabled by a flag. Google’s usage data showed that FTP was used by very few individuals. Now, all support for the FTP is disabled. You’ll need a separate FTP app if you wish to use FTP.

No More Mac OS X Yosemite Support

Google is officially dropping support for Chrome 88 for Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite. In order to use Chrome 88, Mac users will require OS X 10.11 El Capitan or newer. Since Apple hasn’t supported Yosemite since 2017, this shouldn’t come as a shock.

Legacy Add-on Browser Gone for Good

With Chrome 85, as the features were baked into Chrome, Google removed its Legacy Browser Support add-on. Chrome 88 takes it a step further and disables all instances of the add-on being installed. For older apps written for that browser as well as intranet sites, LBS was designed for IT admins to call up Microsoft Internet Explorer in Chrome. The add-on is unnecessary, since it is now integrated into Chrome.

Less applications for intrusive permission Authorization Chip

Chrome 88 is trying to ask for permits in a smaller and less intrusive way. A new “chip” appears on the left of the URL instead of the pop-up that covers the content of the website. “First, the chip will appear with full text like “Use Your Location? “It minimizes to just a tiny icon after a couple of seconds. The permission prompt you’re used to seeing is clicked on the chip, which appears as a blue oval. By enabling the chrome:/flags/#permission-chip flag, you can try the new permission “chips” right now.

Chrome OS Testing Light & Dark Themes

For Chromebooks, Google is testing more defined light and dark themes. It is possible to toggle the theme from the Quick Settings menu. The Shelf, App Launcher, and Quick Settings panel are affected by themes. Not everything is 100% working right now. The flag can be enabled on chrome:/flags/#dark-light-mode if you want to try this out on a Chrome OS system. The Theme toggle will appear in the Quick Settings after you reboot.

Search on Tab Comes to Desktop

Chrome 87 brought Chromebooks a handy Tab Search feature, but on Windows, Mac, or Linux it wasn’t available. Chrome 88, via a Chrome flag, brings it to those platforms. You get a drop-down arrow in the top tab bar when it’s enabled that shows all of your open tabs when selected. The integrated search bar can then be used to find the tab you’re looking for. Activate the Tab Search flag in Chrome:/flags/#enable-tab-search to get this feature in Chrome 88.

Developer Goodies

Much of what’s new is beneath the hood in every Chrome release, and Chrome 88 is no exception. On its developer site and the Chromium blog, Google has outlined many of these changes:

  • Digital Goods API: Just like native apps, web apps published in the Google Play Store can now use Play Store billing.
  • WebXR: AR Lighting Estimation: Lighting estimation can help make models feel more natural and like they fit better with the user’s environment for AR and VR content on Android.
  • Anchor target= blank implies rel= noopener by default: anchors targeting blank will behave as if rel is set to noopener to defend against “tab-napping” attacks.
  • CSS aspect-ratio property: This allows you to specify an aspect ratio explicitly for any element, so that the behavior of the replaced element is similar.
  • Origin Isolation: In exchange for giving up access to certain APIs, web apps can choose to boost the security of a page.
  • JavaScript Engine: Version 8.8 of the V8 JavaScript engine is incorporated into Chrome 88.

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