Following a more developer-focused release last version, Chrome 66 is now in the beta channel with a number of new user features and changes. Google is implementing new media autoplay behavior and warnings about Chrome crashes related to third-party software on Windows. On Android, the browser replaces “Chrome Home” with a toolbar, while there’s a new “Modern Design.”

With version 64 in January, Chrome added the ability to mute audio across sites. Google is now continuing its efforts towards a consistent playback experience with a new behavior that governs when media can autoplay.

In Chrome 66, media automatically starts if conditions meets the following criteria:

  • Content is muted, or does not feature audio
  • Users previously tapped or clicked on the site during the browsing session
  • On mobile, if the site has been added to the Home Screen by the user
  • On desktop, if the user has frequently played media on the site, according to the Media Engagement Index

Meanwhile, Google plans to reduce browser crashes on Windows caused by third-party software that injects code. Citing alternatives like Chrome extensions and Native Messaging for developers, version 66 will display warnings after such a crash has occurred.

The message will advise users to remove the offending software, with Chrome 68 in July blocking third-party software injection unless it prevents the browser from launching. This accommodation will be removed in Chrome 72.

On the security front, this version removes trust for Symantec certificates after the company failed to follow industry security standards. Announced last September, warnings will appear when visiting sites that have not transitioned to the new DigiCert Certificate Authority.

On Android, the “Chrome Home” bottom bar redesign (specifically its flag) is replaced in version 66 by “Chrome Home Duplex.” The main aspect that has changed from Chrome’s current look is a new sliding bottom toolbar that opens the New Tab page. It’s a quick way to launch bookmarks, but is likely still in development.

chrome://flags/#enable-chrome-duplex

However, Google is still keeping the non-bottom bar aspects of Chrome Home with a new “Modern Design” flag in version 66. This includes the stark white background on the tab switcher and New Tab page, as well as a rounded Omnibar for URLs and a similar treatment for other icons.

chrome://flags/#enable-chrome-modern-design

The new Asynchronous Clipboard API provides a new method to read and write from the clipboard, with future Chrome versions adding support for copying/pasting of images and other rich data types.

On the sound front, a new AudioWorklet API allows developers to “programmatically control audio without additional latency and higher stability in the output audio.” With the Decoding Info API, websites will be able to better set media streaming resolution by determining the decoding capabilities of devices.

Chrome 66 should hit the stable channel in a few weeks time.


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