Google released Chrome 88 to the stable channel on January 19, 2021. The new browser version includes some cool changes, including an improved dark theme for Windows 10 and the beginning of less intrusive permission prompts. Here are the highlights.
Better Dark Theme Support on Windows 10
Chrome has supported Windows 10’s system-wide dark theme for a while, but Chrome 88 makes it a little better. Dark Theme now applies to scroll bars on many of Chrome’s internal pages. That includes Settings, Bookmarks, History, New Tab Page, and more. It’s not yet present on websites that support dark themes.
No More FTP in Google Chrome
With Chrome 88, Google Chrome no longer supports FTP URLs—in other words, ftp:// addresses.
FTP support is a legacy feature that has no support for encrypted connections (no FTPS). An attacker could modify files you’re downloading in transit, unlike with encrypted HTTPS or FTPS where this isn’t possible. As Chrome and other browsers are shifting toward an always-encrypted web, dropping old protocols like this makes sense.
Google has been working on removing FTP from Chrome for a while, but it was still available for some people—and a flag could enable it. Google’s usage data showed that very few people used FTP. Now, all FTP support is disabled. If you want to use FTP, you’ll need a separate FTP app.
No More Support for Mac OS X Yosemite
Google is officially dropping support for Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite in Chrome 88. Mac users will need OS X 10.11 El Capitan or newer to use Chrome 88. This shouldn’t come as a shock, since Apple hasn’t supported Yosemite since 2017.
Legacy Browser Add-on Gone for Good
With Chrome 85, Google removed its Legacy Browser Support add-on as the functionality became baked into Chrome. Chrome 88 takes it a step further and disables all installed instances of the add-on.
LBS was designed for IT admins to call up Microsoft Internet Explorer in Chrome for older apps written for that browser as well as intranet sites. Since it’s now built into Chrome, the add-on is unnecessary.
Less Intrusive Permission Requests
Chrome 88 is experimenting with a smaller and less intrusive way to ask for permissions. Instead of the pop-up that covers the website content, a new “chip” appears to the left of the URL.
The chip first appears with full text such as “Use Your Location?” After a few seconds, it minimizes to simply a small icon. Clicking the chip, which appears as a blue oval, brings up the permission prompt you’re used to seeing.
You can try out the new permission “chips” right now by enabling the flag at
Testing Light & Dark Themes for Chrome OS
Google is testing more defined light and dark themes for Chromebooks. The theme can be toggled from the Quick Settings menu. Themes affect the Shelf, App Launcher, and Quick Settings panel. Not everything is working 100% right now.
If you’d like to try this out on a Chrome OS system, the flag can be enabled at
chrome://flags/#dark-light-mode. After you reboot, the Theme toggle will appear in the Quick Settings.
Tab Search Comes to Desktop
Chrome 87 brought a handy Tab Search feature to Chromebooks, but it wasn’t available on Windows, Mac, or Linux. Chrome 88 brings it to those platforms via a Chrome flag.
When it’s enabled, you get a drop-down arrow in the top tab bar that shows all of your open tabs when selected. You can then use the integrated search bar to find the tab you’re looking for.
To get this feature in Chrome 88, enable the Tab Search flag at
- Digital Goods API: Web apps published in the Google Play Store can now use Play Store billing just like native apps.
- WebXR: AR Lighting Estimation: For AR and VR content on Android, lighting estimation can help to make models feel more natural and like they “fit” better with the user’s environment.
- Anchor target=_blank implies rel=noopener by Default: To defend against “tab-napping” attacks, anchors that target
_blankwill behave as though
relis set to
- CSS aspect-ratio Property: This allows explicitly specifying an aspect ratio for any element to get similar behavior to a replaced element.
- Origin Isolation: Web apps can choose to increase a page’s security in exchange for giving up access to certain APIs.
As always, Chrome will automatically install the update when it’s available. To immediately check for and install any available updates, click menu > Help > About Google Chrome.
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