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New in Chrome 81

Chrome 81 is starting to roll out to stable now.

Here's what you need to know:

  • I've got an update on the adjusted Chrome release schedule.
  • App Icon Badging graduates from its origin trial.
  • Hit testing for augmented reality is now available in the browser.
  • Web NFC starts its origin trial.
  • And more.

I’m Pete LePage, working and shooting from home, let’s dive in and see what’s new for developers in Chrome 81!

Updated Chrome release schedule

We recently announced an adjusted release schedule for Chrome. We did this because it is important to ensure Chrome continues to be stable, secure, and work reliably for anyone who depends on it.

Screenshot of Chromium Calendar

In short, Chrome 81 is rolling out now. We’re going to skip Chrome 82, and move directly to Chrome 83, which will be released 3 weeks earlier than planned, in approximately mid-May.

We’ll keep everyone informed of any changes to our schedule on our release blog, and will share additional details on the schedule in the Chromium Developers group. You can also check our schedule page for specific dates for each milestone at any time.

WebXR hit testing

There are a handful of native apps that let you see what a new couch or chair might look like in your home. With an update to the Web XR Device API, it’s now possible to do that on the web too.

With the Web XR Hit Test API, you can place virtual objects into your camera’s view of the real world.

Check out the Immersive Web Working Group's Hit Testing sample (code) where you can place virtual sunflowers on surfaces in the real world, or Positioning virtual objects in real-world views for more details.

App icon badging

App icon badging is graduating from Origin Trial to stable, which means you can now use it on any site, without a token.

Badging of app icons makes it easy to subtly notify the user that there is some new activity that might require their attention, or to indicate a small amount of information, such as an unread count.

It’s more user-friendly than notification. And because it doesn’t interrupt the user, it can be updated with a much higher frequency. It’s perfect for chat or email apps to indicate the number of unread messages. Social media apps could use it to indicate the number of times you’ve been tagged in other peoples posts. Or for games, to indicate to a user that it’s their turn.

Check out my Badging API article on web.dev for full details.

New origin trials

Web NFC

Web NFC is starting its origin trial in Chrome 81. Web NFC allows a web app to read and write to NFC tags. This opens new use cases, including providing more details about museum exhibits, inventory management, reading information from a conference badge, and more.

It’s super easy to use. To read a tag, create a new instance of an NDEFReader object, and start the scan.

const reader = new NDEFReader();

async function startScan() {
  await reader.scan();
  reader.onreading = (e) => {
    console.log(e.message);
  };
}

Then, when an NFC tag is scanned, the reader will fire a reading event that you can use to loop through the incoming messages.

Francois has a great post that covers all the details and it includes a number of common patterns that you might want to use.

Other origin trials

Check https://developers.chrome.com/origintrials/#/trials/active for a complete list of features in origin trial.

And more

  • The media session API now supports tracking position state so you can see where you are in a track and easily skip back or forwards.
  • The INTL API now provides a DisplayNames method that gets the localized names of languages, currency, and other commonly used names, no more having to include that yourself.
  • We had planned to remove support for TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1, but have postponed that until at least Chrome 83.

Further reading

This covers only some of the key highlights. Check the links below for additional changes in Chrome 81.

Subscribe

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I’m Pete LePage, and as soon as Chrome 83 is released, I’ll be right here to tell you -- what’s new in Chrome!

A personal note from Pete

Over the last week, two songs have brought me joy, and I wanted to share them with you, in hopes they bring you some joy.

A huge thanks to my production team, Sean Meehan, Lee Carruthers, Loren Borja, Taylor Reifurth, and the whole Google Developers Studio team. They got me the equipment, helped me get it all setup in my tiny NYC apartment, and then busted their butts to get this video out in the tight turn-around time we had. Working with them is a pleasure. Thank you, you all rock!

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