Google has released the latest update to Chrome, version 70, with a number of important new features. These include support for AV1 codec, picture-in-picture video playback, a fix for Google sign-in linking, support for Progressive Web Apps on Windows, and much more. Chrome 70 is now available for Mac, Windows and Android.
Google sign-in in Chrome
Google had a controversy on its hands recently when they changes how sign-in works in Chrome. With Chrome 69, when users signed into a Google website, their account would automatically start showing in the top right of the browser. While this did not automatically enable sync, it fooled users into thinking that they did. When users logged out of a Google website, they would also log out of Chrome. Users who were already using Chrome sync had no issues, but users who weren’t using it found this change unsettling. Google justified this dark pattern by claiming that it was actually a feature to help simplify sign-in.
Fortunately, Google listened to the outcry from users and have added an update in Chrome 70, which makes it obvious to the end user whether their history and passwords are being synced or not.
Picture-in-picture video playback in Chrome
Other updates in this release include the picture-in-picture video playback, which has been enabled after months in beta and developer builds. Users no longer have to install any extension or enable any flags to use picture-in-picture mode. The feature is currently supported in YouTube. To use it, right click twice on any YouTube video and click on Picture in Picture to watch the video in a small thumbnail on your desktop.
Click on the ‘x’ to close the thumbnail and put the video back in the browser.
PWA in Windows
Chrome now supports Progressive Web Apps in Windows. Any website which supports PWA will show a message, asking if you want to install it as an app. This will let you use the website as a PWA.
AV1 codec support
Support for AV1 video codec has been added in the new update. AV1 is supposed to provide 30% better compression than VP9, which is currently used by YouTube. Even Apple is on-board with AV1 but hasn’t added support for it in Safari or macOS.
YouTube is currently testing support for AV1 codec, which can be enabled by going to the TestTube page. Select ‘Always Prefer AV1’ here and go to this playlist to test out some AV1 encoded videos. To verify if a video is using AV1, right click on it and click on ‘Stats for nerds’. You should see an overlay, which should say av01 in Codecs.
Apart from these user facing features, this version also contains a bunch of security fixes. More details on the security updates can be seen here.