Google is experimenting with a bevy of new features in its Chrome browser, ranging from warning about dummy internet addresses to cutting down on the time taken by web pages to load all their elements. Mint analyses what the new features mean for users.
What is the Google Chrome team up to?
Google is testing a new feature, “Navigation suggestions for lookalike URLs”, that detects lookalike URLs (uniform resource locators) and flags them. It has rolled out Password Checkup, which tells users if their passwords have been compromised. The Chrome team is testing a “Never Slow Mode” that trims resource-intensive web pages by limiting the resources to be allocated to images, style sheet, scripts and fonts. Google is changing the way ad-blocking extensions work by enforcing a new application programming interface (API) for extensions to enhance performance and user privacy.
Why do these features matter?
Registering fake web pages with similar domain names is a common tactic used by hackers to lure users on to malicious web pages. Google’s move will help users who do not carefully read the URL names. Similarly, the Password Checkup feature will tell users which passwords are not safe any more, so that they can change or update them. With the new features, Google is trying to add a few extra layers of security within the Chrome browser. With Chrome version 68, rolled out in October 2018, it has started labelling all non-https (hypertext transfer protocol secure) websites as not secure.
When will you see them?
The feature to detect fake URLs may be rolled out soon. You can download the Password Checkup Extension from the Chrome store. It may take a while before the “Never Slow Mode” is available to users.
What about Google’s competitors?
Chrome is the most popular web browser, with a market share of 25% for personal computers and 31% on Android and iOS, as of August 2018, shows data from Statista, a business intelligence portal. While Chrome is favoured for its ability to handle heavy web pages and a wide repertoire of extensions, rivals such as Mozilla’s Firefox have been ahead in experimenting with new features. Firefox was one of the first to offer the option to block trackers. Compressing web pages to reduce page load was started by Opera.
What’s the row over Google’s new API?
The new API will shift the balance of power from extension to browser, and, hence, Google. In the existing API, extensions can intercept, block, modify or redirect network requests. This affects the page load time. The new API will allow extensions to only observe network requests and prevent them from modifying, blocking or redirecting requests. The Chrome browser will handle the blocking. Developers say this is an attempt by Google to throttle third-party ad blockers before it rolls out its ad blocker this July.