Chrome 66 is rolling out today on Mac, Windows, and Linux with a number of user-facing features and policy changes that have been in development for the past several months. This includes new media autoplay behavior, blocking third-party software, and other security changes.

In January with version 64, Chrome allowed users to mute audio on a site-by-site basis in order to make the playback experience more consistent. Google is now continuing those efforts with new policies that govern when media can autoplay — or start automatically — in Chrome 66:

  • 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

Chrome on Windows will now alert users when third-party software injects code that results in browser crashes. These warnings are designed to encourage users to remove the offending application, with later Chrome updates going further. Version 68 blocks third-party software entirely unless it prevents the browser from launching, while that accommodation will be removed in 72.

In “Manage passwords,” there is a new overflow icon just before the list of stored passcodes that reveals the “Export passwords” option. A prompt asks users to confirm the download with your computer possibly asking you to enter your system credentials to proceed as the saved .csv file is in clear text.

On the security front, Chrome 66 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.

Furthermore, this version contains another mitigation technique for the Spectre CPU vulnerability. With Site Isolation enabled, pages from different websites run in different processes with each process blocked from receiving certain types of sensitive data from other sites. Google is running a “small percentage trial” with this version to prepare for a broader upcoming launch.

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 for desktops is available now, with Android and Chrome OS following shortly.

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com