28 September 2012

What’s new in Chrome 23

For some reason – I’m betting on the summer holidays – this version of Chrome doesn’t bring many updates and most of them are just older experiments that graduated to become standard browser features.

Long-awaited by privacy advocates, but still controversial in the implementation, 23 includes a new setting for ‘Do Not Track’. For now it’s still very much a work in progress; the first time I enabled it Chrome showed a disclaimer stating just that. Right now you get a warning about the limited usefulness of enabling it and a link to a help article that doesn’t yet exist…

Enabling ‘Do Not Track’ means that a request will be included with your browsing traffic. Any effect depends on whether a website responds to the request, and how the request is interpreted. For example, some websites may respond to this request by showing you ads that aren't based on other websites you've visited. Many websites will still collect and use your browsing data - for example to improve security, to provide content, services, ads and recommendations on their websites, and to generate reporting statistics. Learn more

The ‘Website Settings UI’, an experiment from the previous version, has been enabled by default. It’s definitely an UI-focused improvement, making it easier to change privacy and content settings, like access to location, notifications and popups, directly from the current site and not by going through ‘Settings’. After making changes, you get an infobar asking you to reload the page to enable the new settings. Google Chrome 23 new site permissions

Google Chrome 23 Action box menuThe ‘Action box’-menu experiment from version 21 also makes a comeback, becoming a standard feature. It replaces the star in the Omnibox with a + (maybe a subliminal reference to ’s social network/layer/something), an additional menu that merges several actions – currently three: ‘Send to mobile’, ‘Bookmark’ and ‘Share’. While this may seem similar to Chrome for mobile, the share menu doesn’t use some default options like mail or on the iPhone, but instead contacts the Chrome Web Store and asks the user to install an extension – probably based on Web Intents. Both updates can be disabled with new command line flags, should you want to.

Other small changes, as mentioned on Peter Beverloo’s blog, are a new keyboard shortcut for the Web Inspector on Windows – F12, the same used by Internet Explorer 9, and Google Drive as a default application for Google Chrome installations. I didn’t get this one, since I removed the Google Docs app a while ago and that probably signaled the browser I don’t want Drive either. Google Chrome 23 choose sharing app

One last neat feature I discovered – though I’m not really sure when it was introduced – concerns the integration with Google services, in this case search: after searching from the Omnibox with the default Google search engine, an infobar shows up prompting the user to choose between the global and the localized version. I’m not sure this is synced across computers or saved in the Google account along with the other search settings, but I’m hoping this is stronger than just setting a cookie. Google Chrome 23 choose search domain

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