What's in the latest Chrome update? No EVs, that's what

In addition to losing the Extended Validation (EV) certificate indicator in its address bar, Chrome 77 offers tweaks to the tab-sharing tool and adds a new performance metric to site designers' toolboxes.

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Chrome 74

Google on Tuesday updated Chrome to version 74, an update that patched 39 security vulnerabilities and added support for websites that want to honor users' requests to limit stomach-churning motion effects.

The search company paid out $26,837 in bug bounties to 17 researchers who reported some of the vulnerabilities quashed in Chrome 74. Five of the flaws were ranked "High," the second-most-serious category in Google's four-step rating system.

Because Chrome updates in the background, most users only need to relaunch the browser to complete the upgrade. To manually update, select "About Google Chrome" from the Help menu under the vertical ellipsis at the upper right; the resulting tab shows that the browser has been updated or displays the download process before presenting a "Relaunch" button. New to Chrome? Download the latest in versions for Windows, macOS and Linux from here._

Google updates Chrome every six to seven weeks. It last upgraded the browser on March 12.

The world's spinning'

With a rapid release tempo, browser development changes can seem minute, even microscopic, from one version to the next. This upgrade is like that. The public-facing feature touted by Google is one that many won't notice. But those who do will appreciate it.

Chrome 74 now supports the prefers-reduced-motion media query by websites, an effort by site designers and developers to honor operating systems' options to minimize unnecessary motion and animation. For example, macOS has a "Reduce motion" setting in the Display section of the Accessibility pane of System Preferences. If that was checked and Chrome 74 was directed to a site that uses the prefers-reduced-motion query, the browser would follow the site's instructions - assuming they exist - to provide a motion-dampened alternative.

chrome 74 1 IDG/Gregg Keizer

Chrome 74 supports websites which give users a less frenetic look when those users set 'Reduce motion' options like this one in macOS. People susceptible to visually induced motion sickness can become dizzy or even nauseated by on-page animations and attention-grabbing movements.

Some are affected by what's called "visually induced motion sickness" - with symptoms mimicking traditional motion sickness, including dizziness and nausea - which is triggered by on-screen stimuli. The jumpy button that attracts the attention of most could make others ill.

Chrome 74 joined some of its rivals, including Apple's Safari and Mozilla's Firefox, in supporting the motion reduction. Microsoft's browsers - Internet Explorer and Edge - and Opera Software's namesake, Opera, do not.

Where's dark mode, man?

When the Mac version of Chrome went dark (mode) in version 73 six weeks ago, Google said the fashionable feature would reach Windows at some unspecified future date.

A slew of users assumed it would be in Chrome 74 and started asking questions when they couldn't find it. "I've gone back and forth, rebooted, did anything I could to make dark mode work with Windows 10 and it does not," wrote lilalien Tuesday in a thread on the Chrome Help forum. Others chimed in with similar reports and questions, and a few got really hot over the issue. "What a joke this is - just get on with it already," ranted one.

Google's answer came courtesy of a Chrome community manager in the same thread. "I can confirm that we are rolling out this feature to a small number of Chrome M74 users now, and that it will become more widely available in the near future," wrote Craig._His explanation was no real surprise, as Google often enables new features in stages. The practice is meant to give the company a chance to fix problems before everyone is afflicted.

Elsewhere, users posted workarounds to force Chrome to follow Windows' lead and use dark mode:

  • Right-click the Chrome shortcut icon on the desktop and select Properties
  • In the Target field, add this to the end of the text: -force-dark-mode
  • Click the OK button
  • If Chrome is currently open, relaunch it.
chrome 74 2 Google

Google is slowly rolling out 'dark mode' in Chrome 74 on Windows, but by editing the browser's shortcut, users can see it immediately.

Enterprise only

Some of the changes to Chrome were solely for organizations that have adopted the browser.

Among the enterprise-only enhancements was the debut of baked-in Legacy Browser Support (LBS), a feature that (before Chrome 74) was available using a separate add-on from Google. LBS has now been integrated into the browser, making the extension unnecessary. And as a bonus, Google launched it an edition early; in March the company said it was shooting for in-browser LBS for Chrome 75.

Once configured by IT, LBS automatically opens Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) when links clicked within Chrome lead to websites, web services or web apps requiring Microsoft's browser, or more likely, IE's ActiveX controls or Java, neither of which Google's browser supports.

More information about LBS, including setting policies to manage the browser switching, can be found on Google's website.

Chrome's next upgrade, version 75, should reach users on or about June 4.

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