Chrome 81 is out now, and the release was originally scheduled for March 17, but was delayed due to an outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The delay in Chrome81 inevitably disrupts Google’s normal six-week release schedule. So Google has previously announced that it will skip the release of the Chrome 82 release, and the next version of Chrome will be v83.
This update includes two main features: improved augmented reality for WebXR (Chrome), support for web NFC standards.
Feature changes that were originally planned but later removed from Chrome 81 include UI redesigns for Chrome’s Web form elements, as well as the removal of support for TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 encryption protocols. The first deletion occurred because Google engineers were unable to complete the redesign in time. Now, the new form controls are scheduled to work with Chrome 83, which is expected to be released in mid-May.
Plans to remove TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 encryption protocols from Chrome are now delayed to Chrome84. The decision to delay the deletion of these two protocols is related to the current outbreak of COVID-19, as the removal of both protocols may prevent some Chrome 81 users from accessing important government healthcare sites that still use TLS 1.0 and 1.1 to establish their HTTPS connections. Removing support will prevent users from accessing these sites altogether, and Google wants to avoid that.
WEB NFC FIELD TRIALS
Of all the new features added in the current v81 release, the most important is the new Web NFC API. The new Web NFC standard added to Chrome will allow websites to interact with NFC tags, eliminating the need for users to install special apps on their phones.
Google believes that the new Web NFC standard will gain a following among web developers and is expected to be widely used, especially for Android Chrome, where the standard can be used in the following scenarios:
Museums and galleries can display additional information about the display when users touch an NFC card near an exhibition on a smartphone or tablet running Chrome.
Web sites, corporate sites, and intranets that process company inventory will be able to read data or write it to NFC labels on containers or products, simplifying inventory management.
Meeting sites can be used to scan NFC badges.
The intranet and other corporate sites can use Web NFC sharing to configure the configuration and initial secrets required to configure new devices throughout the organization.
Currently, this feature is not widely available to all users, but can only be used as a field trial. Field trial will be available from Chrome 81 to Chrome 83. For more information about Web NFC, see here. The feature is currently scheduled to be enabled for all users in Chrome 84, but may change if there is a problem during the field trial.
3/3 step in Google’s Hybrid Content Upgrade
While Google avoids removing TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1, Chrome 81 does improve the security of httpS connections in another way. Chrome 81 marks the last version of Google’s three-step plan to eliminate hybrid HTTPS content from the web.
Google’s stated ultimate goal is to automatically upgrade all HTTP content to their simulated HTTPS URL. However, suddenly doing this is dangerous because it can cause a lot of damage on the Internet.
So, to prevent significant damage, Google has chosen a three-step plan for the process, which, as described below, is currently ending with the release of Chrome 81:
In Chrome 79, which will be released to Stable Channel in December 2019, the team will introduce a new setting to unblock mixed content on specific sites. This setting applies to other types of content that blend scripts, iframe, and Chrome currently block by default. Users can switch this setting by clicking the lock icon on any https:// page and clicking Site Settings. This replaces the maskicon that appears to the right of the multifunction box to unblock the mix in previous versions of the desktop Chrome browser.
In Chrome 80, mixed audio and video resources are automatically upgraded to https://, and Chrome blocks them by default if they can’t load through https://. Chrome 80 will be released to an earlier version of the channel in January 2020. Users can use the above settings to unmask affected audio and video resources.
Also in Chrome 80, you can still load mixed images, but they cause Chrome to display a “Not Secure” chip in the multifunction box. The team expects this to be a clearer security UI for users, which will prompt websites to migrate their images to HTTPS. Developers can avoid this warning using upgrade-insecure-requests or block-all-mixed-content content security policy directives.
In Chrome 81, mixed images are automatically upgraded to https://, and Chrome blocks them by default if they can’t be loaded with https://.