Google has started rolling out Chrome 56 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The latest builds of the Internet browser bring along some much-awaited features. Notably, with the update, the browser flags certain HTTP websites as unsafe in the address bar and also puts HTML5 as default over Flash for all users, which was earlier done for limited number of users with company's December update. Chrome 56 will soon roll out for Android and Chrome OS as well.
Users will now be prompted about Flash usage with their first visit to webpages while the full rollout of labelling certain HTTP webpages as 'not secure' will start with this Chrome build as well. Google announced last month that starting with Chrome 56, the browser will provide warning to the users in a more active way about entering sensitive information - such as credit card details - on certain 'not secure' sites, such as shopping. HTTP sites not requiring sensitive information to be entered will remain unlabelled.
Till now, Chrome did not explicitly call HTTP pages as 'not secure' but with Chrome 56, the browser will provide the pages with the label if they require certain private information from the users. Chrome 56 also brings along support for FLAC audio files, a crucial addition especially for Apple's operating system, which doesn't support the audio format natively.
Interestingly, the latest version of Mozilla Firefox browser, Firefox 51, which started rolling out on Thursday also warns users about unsecure HTTP pages that contain password fields or require user's credentials for any kind of form. This comes as a part of industry-wide push to encourage the use of encrypted HTTPS web pages, as pointed out in a report by Ars Technica. Firefox and Google are further expected to warn users even more strongly about HTTP webpages going ahead.
With Chrome 56, Google has introduced a new page load behaviour that, as per Google's claims, produces reloads that are 28 percent faster and result in 60 percent less validation requests. Google worked with Facebook for these improvements, and the social network says that Firefox has also implemented changes it suggested to reduce validation requests - thereby speeding up reload times and reducing network usage
Even though the existing reload behaviour usually solves broken pages, but stale content is inefficiently addressed by a regular reload, especially on mobile, Google points out. "This feature was originally designed in times when broken pages were quite common, so it was reasonable to address both use cases at once," the search giant said. However, with increase in quality of webpages, this original concern has become less relevant, it added.
"To improve the stale content use case, Chrome now has a simplified reload behaviour to only validate the main resource and continue with a regular page load. This new behaviour maximises the reuse of cached resources and results in lower latency, power consumption, and data usage," the company said in its official blog.
Even though the changes appear to be beneficial in theory, some developers have reportedly voiced their concerns about these changes. As per developer Samuel Reed, this update will prevent some popular apps such as Slack from giving out timely notifications while running in background, The Next Web points out.
It will be interesting to see how the future of Google Chrome shapes up given the amount of changes that have been recently introduced to the internet browser.