Google is putting its usual Chrome release schedule on hold as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Typically the company releases new builds of Chrome OS and the Chrome web browser every six weeks. But the company says it’s “pausing upcoming Chrome and Chrome OS releases for a while “due to adjusted work schedules at this time.”
In other words, with many employees working from home, working on other projects, or otherwise affected by international efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19, Google may not have the resources to reliably push out stable releases as quickly as usual.
ZDNet notes that Google’s announcement comes out a day after Chrome 81 was supposed to be released… and then never materialized. Rather than put out a potentially buggy Chrome 81, the company has decided to stick with the more stable Chrome 80 for now.
But that doesn’t mean we won’t see any updates at all — Google is expected to roll out minor security updates as patches for Chrome 80. So the version number may not jump, but security improvements that had been planned for the next version of the browser and OS will now be made available for the current branch.
Whenever Chrome 81 does become available, it’s expected to include new features including support for Web NFC and new WebXR augmented reality capabilities. For now you can give those experiences a try by switching to the beta channel — Chrome OS 81 beta was released earlier this week.
It’s unclear when Google will be ready to resume its regular update schedule.
Update: Unsurprisingly, since Microsoft’s Edge web browser is now based on Chromium, Microsoft has announced that Edge 81 is also on hold.
Update 3/26/2020: Google explains that Chrome 81 is now scheduled for the week of April 7th, and Chrome 83 is coming in mid-May. Chrome 82 has been cancelled, but version 83 will include everything that had been planned for Chrome 82, and then some.