Chrome updates with lots of new features: what changes

Chrome updates: here are all the new security features of Google's browser and new features to discover

A new version of Chrome has been released by Google and brings important changes for the security of your user experience. Chrome 84 automatically recognizes authentication codes that arrive via SMS, blocks popup notifications from "famous" spam sites, and downloads from suspicious sites.

There are very few changes to the user interface for this new version of Google's browser, as most of the new features coming are mainly in the "internal" aspect of Chrome, the one accessible to developers. In this version you'll find a new Web OTP API, which is an animation control system, and some functions such as the SCREEN WAKE LOCK API, which in case of inactivity can figure out whether or not to lock the device's screen. A feature that is being tested in the current version and that it is not certain that it will be maintained by the developers.

Chrome will read disposable codes from SMS

The WEB OPT API is a creation of Apple, but even Google eventually decided to support it. It's a new system through which browsers are able to detect incoming SMS messages that contain one-time use (OTP) codes that are sent for two-factor authentication. Chrome will then be able to detect the incoming message and import the single-use code onto a web page. The API was created to standardize SMS OTP codes, but also as a security feature to protect users from phishing attacks.

Chrome, improve animations

The WEB ANIMATIONS API is a collection of new JavaScript features that developers use to have better control over the animation sequences that occur in the browser.

Chrome, the screen won't freeze if you're idle

This new feature is experimental and part of a test, but it's not certain that it will be confirmed in official Chrome versions. If it remains, it will prove very useful because it provides a way to prevent devices, such as smartphones and tablets, from dimming or locking the screen when the browser is open and running. For example, while we're reading the steps of a recipe, looking at barcodes, tickets or other content that needs to be scanned, or even during online games where interaction with the screen isn't always necessary, but disabling it would inconvenience the user.

Chrome, a feature for developers

Another experimental feature is the IDLE DETECTION API, but it's intended only for developers. This is a feature that enables inactivity detection and allows website owners and app developers to detect when a user stops interacting with the device. For example, Chrome will be able to detect a lack of interaction with the phone's keyboard, mouse or even screen, so that more CPU-heavy operations are put on standby when not needed, saving battery life.

Chrome, an API to improve offline mode

The Content Indexing API, or Content Indexing API, is a tool available to developers that allows them to create a list of resources that Chrome has already cached on a page or web app. The data will be used by developers to improve offline viewing experiences, as content will be more accurately cached so that the website is usable even if the connection is missing or too slow.

Goodbye to spam notification popups

This version of Chrome will also be the first to let us say goodbye to spam notifications. The browser will be able to detect and block notification popups from certain sites, which have a reputation for making spam. The annoying notifications will be hidden in an icon located in Chrome's URL bar.

Chrome boosts security

If a site's HTTPS protocol is found to be TLS 1.0 or TLS 1.1, Chrome will automatically return a warning that the site you're trying to open is insecure and block it from running. Chrome and other browsers had announced some time ago that they would block TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 protocols, so sites had adapted by updating their HTTPS certificates, although many are still lagging behind. Precisely because of the difficulty of updating I certificates during the coronavirus, the feature that was supposed to be released already in the past months with Chrome 81 has been postponed in the Chrome 84 version.

Chrome blocks "mixed content" downloads

With the new version, Chrome will also show warnings for those files that we download and are considered a "mixed content". By this term, Google calls the dangerous practice whereby a user is under the impression that they are downloading a file securely from a site with HTTPS protocol, when in fact the actual download takes place on a URL with the less secure HTTP protocol.

To remedy this problem, Chrome will provide an alert to users to inform them of the ways in which they are downloading the file. The ultimate goal is to alert users from downloading files that are potentially dangerous to their computer or smartphone, by first blocking a small subset of files and then all files that may be malicious by Chrome version 88.