22 July 2013

What’s new in Chrome 29

This version of introduces a number of updates aimed at developers; regular users won’t see the changes until the new features will be integrated into apps. A series of new APIs (‘Identity API’, ‘In App Payments API’, ‘Analytics API’, ‘Media Gallery API’, ‘Bluetooth API’ and ‘Native Messaging API’) will enhance packaged apps bringing them closed to their native desktop counterparts. Other new features for apps not mentioned in the official announcement include the ability to specify which local files can be opened by the app and to keep a list of the 500 recently accessed files, to load a specific URL after being uninstalled – in order to run a survey about the reasons for removing the app for example. The VP9 video codec is now enabled by default, but it remains to be seen if it will be adopted outside . Another developer related change – I’m not going to even pretend to understand what it means – is that Chrome JavaScript engine, V8, now supports ES6 generators.

There are nonetheless many small tweaks to the interface and some browser features, like:

  • The omnibox suggestions are being prioritized based on the recency of visited pages.
  • Dragging a link now shows its text and URL instead of a placeholder icon.
  • Modal dialogs are displayed at the top of the browser window, just under the omnibox, instead of being vertically centered. Google Chrome 29 New style modal message box
  • The bookmark icon in the History page has been moved to the left side to make it easier for users to find their starred pages in the list.
  • A new entry in the Bookmarks sub-menu to ‘Bookmark open pages’ has been added – the action is in fact the same as ‘Bookmark all tabs’ in the tab context menu.
  • If you are using the Instant extended API you will notice a new blue Google icon in the omnibox when viewing search results.
  • Speaking of the Instant API experiment, in this version the New Tab page added back a link to ‘Recent tabsin the bottom right. Between this and raising the number of recent pages from 4 to 8 in the previous version, the New Tab page will soon run full circle and look identical to the original version!
  • After users complained that the new web-style menus use too much screen space, Chrome is experimenting with some variations – unfortunately I haven’t seen any in my Canary installation.
  • The warning pages for malware and broken security certificates have also been redesigned, some of them identical to the ones used by .
  • You can instantly restart the browser by visiting chrome://restart.
  • If your browser settings have been modified by malware, you can reset some of them by enabling the flag ‘Enable reset profile settings’. In the final version of the browser, this feature is enabled by default and can be found in the ‘Advanced Settings’ under ‘Reset browser settings’.
  • The translation feature in Chrome has been extended to ‘alpha’ languages, where the translation is still very rough, work-in-progress.
  • You can also send some feedback on the spelling service by enabling the flag ‘Spelling Service Feedback’ – for example words added to the custom dictionary will be sent to the spelling service to improve it.

Probably the most useful changes in Chrome 29 concern the internal ‘flags’ page. For once, the experiments are grouped into two sections according to availability for your OS. On the top you can find flags that can be toggled on and off, in the bottom section the rest, unavailable on your platform. Also, each flag now has it’s own permalink, so you can go directly to a specific experiment instead of scrolling or searching for them. Less interesting is the addition of a link to promote the Beta/Dev channels to Stable/Beta users.Google Chrome 29 reorganized flags page

I’ve seen some (many) articles about the App Launcher and indeed the Canary channel is promoting this non-feature in the Apps section of the New Tab page. If you click through the Launcher will be added to the Windows taskbar, but you can delete it anytime. It’s actually just a shortcut to chrome.exe with the flag --show-app-list. You can manually add a shortcut with this flag and it will work with the stable version (28) as well. Annoyingly, the promo message reappears each time you restart the browser even if you manually close it…Google Chrome 29 App Launcher promo on New Tab page


  1. "Instant Extended API" sucks, who designed this may not a Chrome user!!!
    I want my old "New Tab Page" back.

    1. You can restore the previous version (at least for now) by going to "chrome://flags" -- minus the quotation marks -- locate the "Enable Instant Extended API" setting in the list, and change the value to "Disable."