The last of the double-digit Chrome releases arrived on March 1, 2022. In a few weeks, we’ll see Chrome hit the big 100, but for now, we’ve got some goodies in version 99. That includes a downloads shortcut, better date pickers, and more.
Chrome Gets Edge’s Download Shortcut
Microsoft Edge is based on Chromium, but there are several differences between it and Google’s browser. Rather than downloads appearing in a bottom bar, they’ll go to a shortcut icon on the top toolbar. Google is testing this feature in Chrome 99.
When you download something, a little blue download icon appears in the top toolbar. When the download is complete, it turns grey and eventually disappears. The feature is still being worked on and may include a loading circle in the final version. If Google copies Edge more, you’ll be able to pin the shortcut to the toolbar as well.
Web Apps Can Use System Date Picker
This has been a highly requested feature by developers, but it will also make web apps look nicer for users. Chrome 99 can finally use the system date picker for forms. Rather than needing CSS hacks and custom widgets, web apps can simply use the date picker from your device. This is yet another upgrade that makes web apps feel more native. Try it out on the demo website.
Built-in Handwriting Recognition
Google started experimenting with a built-in handwriting recognition API in Chrome 91. This would allow developers to easily implement handwriting into their web apps. Google is finalizing this API in version 99. Previously, devs needed to use third-party integrations to make this work. The API is available on the desktop versions of Chrome.
Phasing Out Manifest V2 for Ad Blockers
In late 2020, Google introduced Manifest V3 API, which is an API for extensions. The big thing in Manifest V3 is the webRequest API—an API used by every ad-blocking extension—is being replaced by the chrome.declarativeNetRequest API.
What it means for you is ad blockers may not be as good. Manifest V3 allows extensions to have a max of 30,000 rules, while currently, some ad-blockers have close to 100,000. Manifest V2 is slowly being phased out as extension devs work with Google on V3.
What Else Is New?
Google now releases every version of Chrome every four weeks, which means big splashy features aren’t as frequent. There’s still a lot happening under the surface, though. You can read about many of these changes on Google’s developer site as well as on the Chromium blog. We’ll highlight a few changes here:
- Web app manifests now support the color_scheme_dark field for specifying a different theme color and background color for dark mode.
- Chrome 99 introduces unprefixed versions of text emphasis CSS properties.
- CSS Cascade Layers: Allow authors to create layers to represent element defaults, third-party libraries, themes, components, overrides, etc.
- Battery Status API is no longer supported on insecure origins, such as HTTP pages or HTTPS iframes embedded in HTTP pages
How to Update Google Chrome
Chrome will automatically install the update on your device when it’s available. To immediately check for and install any available updates, click the three-dot menu icon and click Help > About Google Chrome.
Update, 3/1/22 7:54 pm Eastern: As of the evening of March 1, 2022, Google Chrome 99 was slowly rolling out. If your Chrome installation doesn’t find it yet, it should arrive in the coming hours or days.
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