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Chrome 87 rolling out with significant speed improvements, more battery life

The last Chrome update of 2020 is starting to roll out and Google is touting a handful of performance improvements. Chrome 87 features tab throttling and better resource management, as well as a number of user-facing additions.

Google says version 87 of its browser “represents the largest gain in Chrome performance in years.” This includes a 5x reduction in CPU usage by prioritizing active tabs versus what’s in the background. Per Google’s internal benchmarks, this results in a 1.25-hour increase in battery life.

Behind-the-scenes, these “significant improvements” are achieved by throttling JavaScript Timer wake-ups in background tabs to once per minute. This does not impact playing audio or notifications on sites that use network event handlers. Tab throttling will start rolling out in Chrome 87 and a wider release is planned for version 88 in January.

The next improvement sees Chrome start up 25% faster than before and load pages up to 7% faster. This is achieved by the browser being aware of what tabs are visible to users and optimizing resources for those ones over hidden pages. Occlusion Track is now coming to Windows after first launching on Mac and Chrome OS.

Meanwhile, on Android, Google touts near instantaneous page loading when navigating backward or forward through browser history. 

In Chrome 87, our back/forward cache will make 20% of those back/forward navigations instant, with plans to increase this to 50% through further improvements and developer outreach in the near future.

Given the advent of tab grouping, as well as pinning, Chrome is now letting users see a list of what’s open across all windows, and then allowing them to search for tabs. A new dropdown icon in the top-right corner of the browser is rolling out first to Chrome OS and later coming to other desktop platforms. 

The Omnibox will now surface Chrome Actions or shortcuts to common settings, like clear browsing data, delete history, or edit passwords. A tappable chip will open that appropriate settings page directly. 

Our first set of actions—available initially on desktop—focuses on privacy and security, so you can increase your peace of mind in a few clicks.

Lastly, the New Tab Page will soon start surfacing recently-visited and related content cards. On mobile, Chrome already shows articles from Google Discover. The goal is to provide a way to “pick up where you left off” while researching on the web.

We’re starting with a few experiments in areas like cooking and shopping, and we plan to add entertainment early next year

Chrome 87 is getting a new PDF viewer that revamps the entire experience. The toolbar features a navigation drawer that shows a thumbnail preview of all pages in the document. You can quickly jump to any page using it or from the center of the control bar by numeric entry.

Zoom controls are also here, with the ability to fit to width/page and rotate. There’s also annotation with pen and highlighter tools, while the overflow menu offers a two-page view.

Earlier this year, Google rolled out a Safety Check feature in Settings that tells you whether Safe Browsing is enabled, are on the latest version of the browser, and if any passwords are compromised. It’s coming to mobile with Chrome 87.

Google will prompt users on Android to sign-in to Chrome with the Account already on their device. This is different from Chrome Sync, but will allow users to access/save payment methods and passwords.

As a reminder, Google Cloud Print will stop working at the start of next year. “Save to Google Drive” in the print dialog is also going away at the same time.

Meanwhile, this release will let Chrome on iOS autofill saved login details into other apps or browsers.

Websites in Chrome 87 will be able to control pan, tilt, and zoom on compatible cameras.

This release will warn about web forms that load via HTTPS but submit content over HTTP. Autofill is disabled, but the browser will continue to offer unique passwords. Red warning text appears underneath fields, while users will be given the option to turn back before submitting.

Chrome 87 will block macOS, Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS users from downloading non-safe file types, (like .pdf and .docx) over HTTP on an HTTPS page. This “[file] can’t be downloaded securely” message is found in the downloads bar, while this version will also start warning about image, audio, video, and text formats.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: