Google today is rolling out the latest version of Chrome for Mac, Windows, and Linux. Chrome 76 gets ready for the deprecation of Flash next year by blocking the plug-in by default, while Incognito Mode will be harder to detect.
As a big HTML5 proponent for the past decade, Google encouraged sites to switch away from Flash for faster, safer, and more battery-efficient browsing. In late 2016 and early 2017, Chrome blocked background Flash elements and defaulted to HTML5, with users having to manually enable the Adobe plug-in on a site-by-site basis.
In July 2017, Adobe announced that it would stop supporting Flash, and Google followed by announcing that it would remove the plug-in from its browser by late 2020.
Chrome 76 by default blocks Flash in the browser. However, users still have the option [chrome://settings/content/flash] to switch back to the current “Ask first” option — where explicit permission is required for each site after every browser restart — for several more releases.
Many publications rely on subscriptions and will stop you from viewing articles in private browsing as a means to get around free article limits. Chrome 76 addresses one way that websites are able to detect if you’re using Incognito Mode to get around a paywall. The release fixes how Chrome implements the FileSystem API so that “detect private mode” scripts can no longer take advantage of that indicator.
Settings gets a usability tweak by always displaying the nav drawer on desktops. Losing the hamburger button in the top-left corner, you can quickly scroll through the list to find the right section.
Chrome 76 adds an “Install” shortcut for Progressive Web Apps in the Omnibox. When you navigate to a supported site, a ‘plus’ icon appears next to the ‘star’ for bookmarking. On initial load, there is a small “Install” animation, with a click opening the “Install app?” panel that includes PWA details and the app icon.
PWAs will also check for updates more frequently starting with Chrome 76. Saved WebAPKs allow applications to appear in the launcher and Android system settings, with the browser now looking for manifest updates daily, instead of every three days in previous releases.
Chrome for Mac and Windows already feature darker looks that turn the address bar, tabs, and other UI elements gray when the OS-level dark theme is enabled. Version 76 will let websites automatically enable dark modes and respect user preference with the prefers-color-scheme media query. This is similar to Chrome 74′s support for reducing motion, with developers required to create themed versions of their content first.
“Frosted glass” is a popular look for apps — especially on iOS — that makes UI elements partially translucent. This results in a slightly blurred, but still visible background. It can be replicated on the web with the CSS backdrop-filter property that Chrome 76 now supports.
The backdrop-filter CSS property applies one or more filters to the “backdrop” of an element. The “backdrop” basically means all of the painted content that lies behind the element. This allows designers to construct “frosted glass” dialog boxes, video overlays, translucent navigation headers, and more.
One way to combat pop-ups and other web abuse is by making sure that users are actually interacting with a page before letting those elements appear. Google no longer considers the Escape key a user activation/interaction on pages.
For example, clicking on a link or typing in a textbox does, but swiping fingers on a screen or hovering with the mouse cursor does not.
When browsing to a new website today, Chrome will flash the screen white to provide a “reassurance that the page is loading.” However, this can be distracting and does not make sense when sites load quickly. Chrome 76 is testing a new Paint Holding behavior where the “browser waits briefly before starting to paint, especially if the page is fast enough.”
Our goal with this work was for navigations in Chrome between two pages that are of the same origin to be seamless and thus deliver a fast default navigation experience with no flashes of white/solid-color background between old and new content.
Site Isolation is now enforced for all desktop users. Aimed at mitigating the Spectre CPU vulnerability, this feature renders content for each open web page in a separate, dedicated process. Chrome 67 last year gave enterprise admins the ability to opt-out of the security measure due to compatibility problems on certain domains. That option has been removed in version 76 after Google “resolved the reported issues.”
Chrome 76 for desktops is available now, with Android and Chrome OS following in the coming weeks.