Chrome and Chrome Beta for Android update news

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Chrome 45 comes to the Play Store. / © ANDROIDPIT

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Chrome 45 for Android released – September 1, 2015

Prior to Chrome 45 for Android, app developers were faced with a conundrum when it came to implementing web links into their apps. They could either have links open in Chrome, which was simple to implement but clumsy, slow and resource-intensive to use, or they could build their own browser over WebView. The downside of the latter was that it required greater technical knowhow as well as the use of a browser that lacked the familiarity of Chrome, including users’ bookmarks, cookies and browser history.

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Custom tabs in Chrome is a nifty solution to this problem. It preloads webpages in the background and then switches to them in a customizable window that can be made to match the appearance of the app from which the link was clicked. This makes it easier for app makers to implement links in their apps, and creates a fast and familiar way for users to view webpages.

custom tabs performance
Chrome 45 for Android’s custom tabs offer faster webpage integration. / © Google

Chrome 42 for Android released – April 15, 2015

The first of the two major new features will present a banner at the bottom of the page when you frequently visit a website, asking you if you want to add it to your Android homescreen.

The second – and more controversial – features is a new ‘push notifications’ system, whereby sites can send push notifications to your device even after you’ve closed the page. This could potentially be quite an intrusive feature, but Google has assured users that they’d need to give explicit permission for a site to send such notifications.

The notifications feature could be useful if you’re on an auction website, for example, and want to be notified if you’ve been outbid, or if you’re trying to buy or sell something and want to know when the other person sends you a message. We just hope it’s easy to remove sites’ rights to send you push notifications as it is to add them.

Google is also throwing in a number of bug fixes and ‘speedy performance improvements’, which are always welcome.

The Chrome 42 update will be rolled out to Android users over the next few days, but if you’re feeling fidgety then you can already download the APK at APK Mirror.

April 2, 2015 – Chrome update swallows your display with new fullscreen mode

A discussion on the Chromium code site between Google coders and members of the public revealed that the immersive fullscreen mode is set to be added to build 43 of Chrome for Android, and be fully usable by build 44. A Google employee said in the discussion:

“1) For M43 (Chrome 43) we launch with the setting listed but disabled (so “Fullscreen/Allowed” all in gray.) You can reset by resetting the entire site.
2) For M44 I get UX approved for single-permission management. We need more time than we have right now to get everyone on board, but should be doable for the next milestone.”

The obvious use for an immersive fullscreen mode would be to improve readability and viewability of websites, but there have been several other suggestions for how the feature could be implemented. In the discussion about the fullscreen mode, it was mentioned that it could pave the way for a Google Cardboard app, which would let you browse the web using the budget VR headset using a minimal interface.

You can currently view certain sites in Chrome for Android using a ‘Reader Mode’ add-on, but its functionality is somewhat limited.

While immersive fullscreen mode sounds useful, we’re particularly excited about the idea of it being used with Google Cardboard, letting you have an immersive VR web browsing experience for about US$25. What do you think?

Chrome Beta

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Chrome Beta lets you play with all the new features before everyone else. / © AndroidPIT

Chrome 46 Beta September 2, 2015 – flexible animations, improved loading performance

In the latest major release of Chrome Beta, Google has added the possibility for developers to animate graphical objects along an arbitrary path, saving on complex and intrusive javascript code. The animation happens declaratively as a CSS property, which means it doesn’t block rendering or input.

Elsewhere, the release features optimized image loading and service worker instrumentation. According to the Chromium blog, this means developers can “negotiate with the server to download the best image variant for a device using straightforward HTTP request headers.”

There is an addition that stops autoplay videos playing until their tab of origin is in the foreground, and sites that have been added to the homescreen can modify Chrome’s UI default color.

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