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Chrome 77 arrives with new performance metrics, form capabilities, and Origin Trials

by George Mensah
google chrome

Google today launched Chrome 77 for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. The release includes new performance metrics, form capabilities, and Origin Trials. You can update to the latest version now using Chrome’s built-in updater or download it directly from google.com/chrome.

With over 1 billion users, Chrome is both a browser and a major platform that web developers must consider. In fact, with Chrome’s regular additions and changes, developers often have to stay on top of everything available — as well as what has been deprecated or removed. Chrome 77, for example, removes credit card issuer networks as payment method names (like “amex,” “mastercard,” and “visa”).

Performance metrics, forms, and Origin Trials

Google is obsessed with speeding up the web, and Chrome is its main tool for doing so. Chrome 77 introduces two new performance metrics to help developers measure how quickly the main content of a web page loads and is made visible to users.

The first addition is Largest Contentful Paint, which attempts to provide more meaningful data by using the largest content element as a proxy for when the main content of the page is likely visible to users.

The second is the PerformanceEventTiming interface, which provides timing information about the latency of the first discrete user interaction. Specifically, Chrome measures for a key down, mouse down, click, or the combination of pointer down and pointer up. This is a subset of the EventTiming API but can be exposed in advance to help measure and optimize responsiveness.

Chrome 77 has also added two new features that support custom form controls. The formdata event, which is added to form element, lets sites use JavaScript instead of hidden elements to add data to a form. The passed event includes a FormData object containing the data being submitted, which can now be modified.

Lastly, Chrome 77 also introduces Origin Trials that let you to try new features and provide feedback on usability, practicality, and effectiveness to the web standards community. The first new feature is the Contact Picker API, an on-demand picker that lets users select entries from their contact list and share limited details of the selected entries with a website.

Enterprise features

Chrome 77 includes site isolation improvements to protect cross-site data, such as cookies and HTTP resources, in attacker-controlled websites. Site isolation will also now be enabled on some Android devices for sites where mobile users enter passwords.

IT admins can now define the URL of an XML file that will never trigger a browser switch using the BrowserSwitcherExternalGreylistUrl policy. There’s also a new chrome://browser-switch/internals page for verifying that Legacy Browser Support rules are being followed.

Chrome 77 also has an updated first-run experience to set up new users with popular Google services (Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Google News, and Google Translate). It also prompts you to set Chrome as the default browser. You can disable the new flow with the PromotionalTabsEnabled policy.

The new version also lets you launch guest browsing by default using the --guest command line flag or the new BrowserGuestModeEnforced policy. With guest browsing, browsing activity is not written to the disk and does not persist between browser sessions.

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Android and iOS

Chrome 77 for Android is rolling out slowly on Google Play, but the full changelog isn’t up yet.

Chrome 77 for iOS is rolling out on Apple’s App Store. It includes four improvements:

  • A new language settings page, giving you more control over which languages Chrome offers translations for.
  • You can clear your browsing data from a specific range of time, like the past hour or past day.
  • Omnibox suggestions are easier to read with added thumbnails and icons.
  • Easily close tabs that are maliciously showing JavaScript dialogues.

Ensuring only languages you don’t understand are translated should be handy for polyglots. For everyone else, there’s more granular controls for clearing browser data.

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