This story was originally published and last updated .
Google releases new Chrome builds every six weeks, and the latest version to launch is Chrome 92. The new browser is available for download since yesterday, and it comes filled to the brim with interface experiments, security improvements, web app enhancements, and performance upgrades. Here’s what you need to know.
Google is constantly tweaking the Chrome interface with various A/B tests, and it seems like the latest Chrome version activates a few variations for some people. After integrating Google Lens search with its regular Chrome image search, Google is now also bringing a Lens camera shortcut to the Chrome address bar, with a camera icon in the top right corner for some.
Google is also continuing experiments with extra buttons in the top bar. For some people, Chrome 92 adds a new tab button between the address bar and the tab switcher while others see a share button. We’ve already seen Chrome experimenting with these layouts, but it looks like Google is getting more aggressive about pushing these to users. We’ve got more details about this experiment over in our dedicated coverage.
New Chrome Actions
For desktops, Google is introducing additional Chrome Actions, which we previously covered as part of a Chrome OS update. Chrome Actions is a quick way to control certain browser features right from the address bar, where you can type in things like “clear cookies” or “manage passwords” to jump straight into the corresponding settings section. In Chrome 92, Google is adding three new commands: “manage security settings,” “manage sync,” and “safety check.” The latter lets you quickly examine the security of your passwords, extensions, and more.
Site Isolation improvements
The new Chrome release is also getting Site Isolation improvements. Site Isolation was first introduced in 2018 due to the Spectre and Meltdown security flaws in Intel and ARM chips, and while it removes certain attack vectors, the downside it introduced was higher RAM usage.
Chrome 92 extends Site Isolation to browser extensions, preventing them from sharing processes with each other. This gives you an extra layer of security without removing any existing capabilities from extensions.
On Android, Google keeps prioritizing performance over strictly isolating all sites, and in essence, things will remain like this in Chrome 92. However, the new release adds a few more rules. Google writes in a blog post, “Site Isolation will apply to sites where users log in via third-party providers, as well as sites that carry Cross-Origin-Opener-Policy headers.”
To dive into the technical details, check out the company’s announcement.
More efficient phishing protection
In the phishing department, Google claims that “detection is now 50 times faster and drains less battery” thanks to advances in image processing. To recognize phishing websites, Chrome analyzes the color profile of a visited page and compares it to a collection of known phishing websites. When a match is found, the browser will throw up a warning and discourage you from visiting the site in question. Since Google doesn’t send out these color profiles to its servers to protect your privacy by default, the image processing needs to take place on your device. Google has improved this process by reducing the number of calculations and by loping together identically colored pixels. This results in less CPU usage (1.2% of total CPU time, to be exact), improved battery life, and earlier warnings. Check out Google’s blog post for a deeper dive.
File Handling API
You know how you can specify in which app to open certain file types on Android? Currently, this dialog is mostly limited to natively installed apps (or at least those installed through the Play Store), but Google wants to change that for web apps added to your phone via Chrome. Once developers implement support for it, you’ll be able to pick a web app as your default destination for opening certain file types.
The same change is also coming to web apps installed via Chrome on desktops, where these apps will live in the right-click menu alongside native applications. That will make it much easier to rely on web apps for workflows involving local files, which is important for image and text editors and the likes. Google describes, “For example, after a text editor PWA has registered itself as a file handler, you can right-click a .txt file in your operating system’s file manager and instruct this PWA to (always or just once) open .txt files. This means PWAs are just a (double) click away from the file manager.”
Video conferencing actions in PIP view
While there are dedicated desktop programs for most video conferencing platforms, a lot of the action can also take place right in Chrome these days. Google wants to further improve the experience with the addition of optional buttons to conferences’ picture-in-picture modes. Chrome 92 experiments with support for mic and camera toggles as well as an end call button, though support for those isn’t stable right away.
Google Reader resurrected — kind of
Google is working on an RSS reader of sorts for the new tab page. When you activate the Web Feed experiment (chrome://flags/#web-feed), you’ll get the option to follow websites with RSS feeds. They’ll show up in a new Following tab on your new tab page next to the Discover feed. Things are still a bit buggy right now, but the feature should soon be ready for prime time. (If Google doesn’t scrap it altogether, which can always happen with under-development experiments.)
Read more about this here.
- Web Bluetooth manufacturer data filter: The Web Bluetooth API can now filter the nearby devices list based on manufacturer data.
- Better page transitions for web apps: Web apps can specify a simple set of page transitions to make apps feel more native. The “Shared Element Transitions” rely on system-provided animations, so developers don’t have to hack together solutions for transitions anymore. This is currently only available for single-page PWAs.
- Chrome Labs should roll out with this release of Chrome. Once enabled under chrome://flags/#chrome-labs on your desktop, you’ll see currently active flags and experiments you’re running behind a beaker icon next to your address bar.
- Memories: Chrome’s reimagined combined view for bookmarks, history, and open tabs for the desktop browser should be available with this release, though you’ll probably have to activate the chrome://flags/#memories flag before you can start using it. The new view will then be available under chrome://memories.
- New fancy text snipped sharing options: Google is testing an Instagram-like text snipped sharing style. Read more about it here.
- You can no longer disable Chrome’s new custom sharing menu on Android: In previous releases, you could disable the menu by unexpiring older flags.
You can check if Chrome 92 is offered on the Play Store for you already, but if you want to get your hands on it right away, get it over at APK Mirror. If you have trouble starting the app after going the latter route, make sure you’ve also got the corresponding Trichrome library installed.
This article previously covered the beta launch of Chrome 92 and has been updated to reflect the stable release.