Category: Chrome

Chrome 57 Brings Improvements in Background Tab Power Consumption

Google has announced that the latest version of Chrome for Windows, Mac and Linux has a new CPU consumption throttle that will limit the power consumption of background tabs in the browser.  This new throttling policy should shows improvements to users in the form of prolonged battery life, something that Chrome and other browsers are known to impact.

The update is a change from the current timer model that is used in Chrome today.  That timer limits the refreshing of background tabs to once per second.  In this new timer, it is based on CPU consumption.  Build 57 will delay timers to the limit average of CPU load of 1% of a core.  So think of it as an augmented and improved timer model over the once-per-second timer used today.

Google Chrome for Windows

Google Chrome for Windows

It should be noted that tabs playing audio or real-time connections (like WebRTC) won’t be impacted.

So what does this really mean for end users?  It should result in improved battery life.  With fewer timer updates happening in the background, you should see battery life improvement.  How much is going to be dependent on how many background tabs you have open at any given time.  Even with these improvements, it is recommended that you keep tabs to a minimum as you work throughout the day, especially if you are running your laptop on battery power.

Eventually the Chrome team wants to get tabs fully suspended in the background and leverage new APIs to bring them back to life when you need them.  That’s still a bit away but is the end goal for the team.


Google Pixel Chromebook is Dead? Not So Fast Says Google

Yesterday, from a wide range of sources, it was reported that Google has no plans of ever making a Pixel Chromebook follow up.  This lead to a lot of consternation as the Pixel lineup, while having a hefty price tag, were the premium Chrome OS experience.

Well, not so fast.  Google’s Rick Osterloh took to Twitter today and laid out that the Pixel Chromebook isn’t dead at all.  It is just that there is nothing to report on it.

Now for those who don’t know who Mr. Osterloh is with Google, he is certainly a voice of authority on this topic.  He is the Senior Vice President of Hardware at Google.  Yeah, he might know a thing or two.

Chrome Notification Panel Gets a Material Design Makeover

Slow and steadily, Material Design is making its way into the Chrome browser.  Right now there is a behind-the-scenes update that brings the more polished look to the Chrome notification panel.  If you aren’t familiar with this feature, it is under the bell icon in the taskbar in Chrome.  It gives you notifications from other Google services like Google+, Google Photos and the like.  Previously, this panel was pretty slow to load and frankly, looked a bit dated when you compare it to the beautiful Material Design look of other parts of the browser or even Google’s own websites.  If you have the latest version of Chrome browser, you will get this update and will know you have it when you see a couple of visual clues.

First, the color changing orb that shows up when notifications are loading is gone.  Now you a simple, clean progress bar at the top of the panel.  Second, you will see your notification in sub-divided areas.  So update for Google+ are under one section, Google Photos for another, and so on.

Gmail Won’t Support Chrome 53 or Earlier Starting February 8th

Google has announced that starting February 8, 2017, Chrome 53 and earlier will not be supported for Gmail.  Starting then, a banner will be displayed indicating that an update is recommended for a safer experience.  The current version of Chrome is build 56 for desktops.

The impact is most likely going to be felt by those who are still on Windows XP or Windows Vista.  Chrome 49 was the last supported version for these Operating Systems and Google, as Microsoft themselves have done, are no longer supporting them.  In Google’s announcement, users on XP and Vista are strongly encouraged to update to a new version of Windows.

Chrome for Android Update Brings New Downloads Tab

Google has announced the release of a new build of Chrome for Android.  Chrome 56 brings a lot of improvements and new features to the browser, most notably is a new download tab.  The new build is version 56.0.2924.87 for those keeping score at home and should be coming to your devices over the course of the next week.

The big new feature is a new downloads tab.  Now you can more easily find things that you have download within the browser with this new tab.  The aim is to allow you to find them and access them without having to exit the browser itself.  Along with this, you can now easily use email addresses, physical addresses and phone numbers within a web page by tapping them.  If, for example, you tap a phone number, it will open up your phone app so you can place that call.  Again, the idea is to make the user experience easier and faster.

Chrome for Desktop Rolling Out With Full HTML5 Support

The Chrome team has started rolling out a new major build of the browser for Windows, Mac and Linux.  Chrome build 56.0.2924.76 has a long list of security fixes and enhancements but also has an impressive list of new features along with it.  In all there are 21 specific issues addressed in the release notes, 7 of which were considered high priority.  As is the usual case, Google hasn’t released all the details of what was addressed.  They will do that after a majority of users have upgraded to the new build.

In this build, full HTML5 is supported which means the end of Adobe Flash plug-in for everyone.  You should get a prompt when you first open up the browser about Flash and the idea here is to make it a better browsing experience for everyone.  And safer.

Google Chrome Browser Update for Windows & Mac Released

If you are a Google Chrome user on your Windows PC or Mac, there is a small but important update that has been released.  The updated builds are 54.0.2840.99 for Windows and 54.0.2840.98 for Mac.  Note that there is no update for Linux yet.  According to the release notes from the Chrome team, there are additional changes to the browser for that platform and it will be updated tomorrow.  The update will come via an OTA update but if you want to force the issue, go to chrome://help in the browser and it will force the update to happen.  I’ve already done this for my Macbook so the update is readily available.

Read on for details on what has changed.

Chrome for Windows Gets a PGO Speed Boost

The Chromium team has rolled out an update to Chrome for Windows that should bring a big speed boost to the browser.  In build 53 for 32-bit and 54 for 64-bit, Chrome now takes advantage of Profile Guided Optimization, or PGO (pronounced Pogo) compiling to give big speed improvements.  In their blog post about the update, the team reports that new tabs open 14.8% faster while Page Loads speed up by 5.9%.  Not familiar with PGO?  It is a compiler optimization technique that is designed to optimize performance.  Specifically, Chrome looks at what functions are being used and optimizes those functions to gain the speed improvements.  Essentially what it does is move rarely used functions out of memory and frequently used ones into memory.

Chrome for Android Updated to Build 53

Chrome for Android has been updated to build 53 and the update will be rolling out to your Android devices this week.  The update comes a week after the same major build was released for Chrome OS and about two weeks after it was released for Chrome for desktop (Windows, MacOS and Linux).  The updated build number is version 53.0.2785.124 for those keeping score at home.  The update has been released to the Google Play Store so it is a matter of when the OTA update comes to your device which will likely happen at some point this week.

Chrome for Desktop Updated With Security Fixes

If you are using the Chrome browser on your Windows, Mac or Linux machine, there is an important update that is out now for you to download.  The update, version 53.0.2785.113 has several security improvements in it but most of what has been fixed has not been released by the Chromium team.  As is often the case on these mid-stream releases (remember, they just released a big update last week), the team and their researchers found a significant security issue and they won’t release the details of it until a majority of users have updated to the build.  Once that happens, all the gory details can be found on the Chromium Blog.

That said, there are five named fixes in the update, two of which were considered high priority.

New Android-Like Hangouts Chrome Extension Now Available

If you are a heavy user of Hangouts and use Chrome or Chrome OS, there is a new extension and app for you to check out.  Last week Google announced that a new, Android-like Chrome extension for Hangouts would be coming out with the aim to improve performance and the overall look and feel of the UI.  Achievement unlocked as both the extension and the app look far better than the old style and both perform exceptionally well.

The new extension can be found in the Chrome Web Store which allows you to run Hangouts while you are using your Chrome browser regardless of platform.  This is what the majority of users will want, especially Chrome OS users, as the browser tends to stay open all the time.

Chrome for Android Update Brings Android Pay Support

A new version of the Chrome browser for Android is making its way into the Play Store.  The updated build, version 53.0.2785.97 for those keeping score at home, has a lot of security updates and improvements that we’ve come to expect from these types of updates.  However, there is also support for Payment Request API which means that this build of Chrome supports Android Pay.  The Payment Request API is somewhat self explanatory but here is the W3C definition:

This specification describes a web API to allow merchants (i.e. web sites selling physical or digital goods) to easily accept payments from different payment methods with minimal integration. User agents (e.g., browsers) will facilitate the payment flow between merchant and user.

This means that you will be able to use Android Pay to pay for goods and services through the Chrome browser on your phone without having to type in a credit card number.  It should make buying goods online faster and more secure.