Google has released Chrome 66 for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. Among other things, the update brings experimental support for “site isolation” to a limited set of users, as a way to help protect against Spectre-based attacks. Google says the feature is rolling out as a trial now, but it will eventually be available to all users.
But the more noticeable change is that Chrome 66 should prevent websites from automatically playing videos when you visit a page.
The feature seems to be a bit hit or miss for now, but it’s still a step in the right direction.
Out of the box, Chrome 66 should allow videos to autoplay if there’s no audio or if content is muted by default, but videos with audio aren’t supposed to play unexpectedly.
After installing Chrome 66 on my phone and laptop, I’ve found that this seems to work on some, but not all websites with autoplaying video. Interestingly, a few sites that play videos automatically Windows laptop running Chrome 66 do not do so on my Android 8.1 smartphone running Chrome 66.
Your results may vary, and that’s at least partially by design: Google keeps a Media Engagement Index to figure out if you regularly play media on a website so that, for example YouTube will continue to autoplay videos as expected, while news sites may not.
Other changes in Chrome 66 include:
- Desktop users will get a warning if third-party software causes the browser to crash
- Asynchronous Clipboard API enabling copy/paste of large amounts of text or other content
- Ability to export passwords from Chrome for iOS and Android for use in other apps
- Optional “Chrome Duplex” user interface for Android, presenting a new toolbar that slides up from the bottom to open bookmarks, recent downloads, and other content.
You can enable Chrome Duplex by entering chrome://flags/#enable-chrome-duplex into the URL bar in the browser, but keep in mind that the feature may still be under development, and it takes away a bit of real estate at the bottom of your browser screen.