Google Chrome 104 Rolls Out with Controversial New Web API

A new stable version of Google Chrome is out.

Google Chrome 104 is the latest stable update of this cross-platform web browser. The update rolls out to Windows, macOS, and Linux users from August 2, 2022.

Much like Mozilla Firefox new versions of Google Chrome are released every months or so (though Google Chrome 105 is due a bit sooner than that, with a stable rollout set for August 30, 2022).

But what’s changed?

Well, Chrome 104 adds “region capture [to allow] web apps to crop a track and remove content from it, typically before sharing it remotely”. Think screensharing your tab but being able specifically draw out a region of the screen to share (and hiding the rest).

This release also sees the enhanced Web Bluetooth API debuts. This feature makes it possible (in theory) for websites to communicate with your devices over Bluetooth as you browse.

Think that sounds a bit creepy? So do Mozilla or Apple. Both are concerned that web bluetooth API could increase “fingerprintability” and aid user tracking. Neither plan to implement the feature as-is in their respective browsers, making Chrome an outlier.

Other areas seeing improvement include the Multi-Screen Window Placement API (useful for rendering one browser window across multiple screens), while the implementation of a WebGL color management API enables non-sRGB color spaces for WebGL.

Chrome 104 also intros a number of new origin trials. Origin trials are “new or experimental web platform feature[s]” you can opt-in to testing “before the feature is made available to users”.

One particularly interesting trial (which you can opt-in to via chrome://flags involves a tweak to timer throttling of loaded background pages which the good folks at Neowin note ‘could lead to better battery and CPU utilization, without reducing performance’ — nice!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Chrome 104 release includes a sizeable set of security fixes, with seven high CVEs being addressed in particular, according to Google.

Google Chrome is available to download and install on Windows, macOS, and most major Linux distributions. Google provides .deb and .rpm installers on the Google Chrome download page.

I will add that Google Chrome 104 is also coming to the extended stable channel. Thus far Google hasn’t given any indication that this buffer branch will come to Linux or ChromeOS. This, extended releases are currently on available to Windows and macOS users.