Google is kicking off the new year with a fresh version of the Chrome browser. Chrome 109—released on January 10, 2023—includes a new Secure Payment Confirmation for Android, Material You support on the desktop, and video conferencing tools.
Secure Payment Confirmation on Android
Google is proposing a new web standard to make it easier for people to authenticate credit cards, banks, and other payment providers in chrome. It’s called Secure Payment Confirmation (SPC) and it makes it possible to authenticate with your biometric screen unlock method.
If it’s supported by the bank or payment provider, you’ll be able to skip the typical annoying confirmation dialogs and simply scan your fingerprint. This is more secure than being able to enter details that can be found on your credit card or banking account.
Better Screen Sharing in Video Calls
Screen sharing is a big part of videos calls, but it can be a pain to make sure you’re showing only what you want to show. The Screen Capture API has tools to help with that, and it’s getting even better in Chrome 109.
The new “Conditional Focus” feature allows web apps to control whether the captured tab or window will be focused when capture starts, or whether the capturing page should remain in focus. It’s also getting the ability to suppress local audio playback, which should help when presenting in a room with other people talking.
Video Call Controls in the Chrome OS Shelf
Video conferencing has become very common in recent years, and Google is making it easier on Chromebooks. An experimental feature puts controls for video calls directly in the Chrome OS Shelf (taskbar).
As of Chrome 109’s release, enabling the flag at
chrome://flags#vc-controls-ui adds buttons for enabling/disabling the microphone and video and screen sharing, but they don’t do anything yet. It’s likely these buttons will only appear when you’re in a video call when the feature is more polished. As for now, it’s still early.
Material You Theming for Desktop
Google’s Material You theming has been present in Chrome for Android for a while, but now it’s coming to Windows and macOS as well. This allows you to change the theme of Chrome simply by changing the background image on the New Tab page.
To enable this feature, enable the flag at
chrome://flags/#customize-chrome-color-extraction . At the time of writing, the flag is present in Chrome 109, but only fully functional in the Canary channel.
Dropping Support for Windows 7 and 8/8.1
In October, Google announced that support for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 would be dropped in Chrome 110. That means Chrome 109 is the last version that supports pre-Windows 10 versions. Chrome 110 is scheduled for release on February 7th, 2023. Older versions of Chrome will still work on Windows 7/8/8.1, but won’t receive updates.
What Else Is New?
Chrome releases don’t have as many big new features these days. However, there’s still a lot happening under the hood. You can read about many of these changes on Google’s developer blog. We’ll highlight a few changes here:
- Chrome 109 supports MathML Core, a language for describing mathematical notation embeddable in HTML and SVG.
- Chrome 109 enables the Origin Private File System (OPFS) part of the File System Access API on Android.
- Variable fonts let users choose how heavy or slanted or wide the typeface should be, using descriptors inside the
@font-facerule. The CSS Working Group added a new value of
autofor these descriptors, which is now the default.
- Chrome 109 expands same-origin prerendering to also allow triggering same-site cross-origin 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.
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