Chrome 73 gets dark mode, PWA apps and hardware media keys support

Google has released Chrome 73 for Mac and Windows. The biggest feature in this update is the dark mode, which was available in beta builds since some time. Chrome 73 also includes a number of other new features which include support for Progressive Web Apps (PWA) support, hardware media keys, auto picture-in-picture, enhanced spell check, updates to Sync, and a bunch of new developer focused features. 

It’s been a while since Google released a Chrome update with so many new features. Here’s a look at some of them in this release.

Chrome dark theme with website icons

Chrome 73 features

Dark mode

Chrome is the last of all popular web browsers to get the dark mode treatment. Safari, Edge, Firefox and Opera have had dark themes since some time now. Chrome had been testing a dark theme since a few weeks and its now available to all users. However, it still has some issues which we were expected to be fixed before the update goes public.

While most parts of the browser are dark, like the menu, address bar and the overall chrome, there are some sections which still need work. Text on the new tab is not readable and most pages like Settings, History and Bookmarks Manager don’t have a dark theme. Incognito tab now looks the same as the main window and Google hasn’t put enough effort to make it stand out from the non-incognito windows.

Chrome incognito with dark theme

Hardware media keys

Chrome now lets users control media playback in the browser using hardware media keys. If you have a MacBook or any laptop or PC with media keys, you can use them to play/pause/skip video or audio. I’ve tested this with YouTube on my MacBook and really like the feature. Even Safari does not support this yet.

Progressive Web Apps

This is another huge feature that has landed in Chrome. Progressive Web Apps are now supported on Mac. Users can now create shortcuts for their favorite websites or web apps and they will work and behave like native apps. They get their own icon in the Applications folder, run in their own window, show in the app switcher as an app and also support push notification badges. All extensions continue to work for PWAs, even in their own windows.

If you go to mobile.twitter.com in Chrome, you will see an ‘Install Twitter’ message in the main menu. This will let you use Twitter as a desktop app. Oddly, in my usage, the Twitter app window appeared with a light theme despite Chrome sporting a dark theme.

PWAs also support auto picture-in-picture so that if you are watching a video or in a conference call, and have to switch windows, the video will automatically scale down to a thumbnail.

Google has also added a number of developer focused features in this release like constructable style sheets and signed HTTP exchanges. You can read more about them here.

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