Chrome 69: Your guide to the latest version of Google’s browser

5 Sep 2018

Google Chrome logo. Image: BigTunaOnline/Shutterstock

Google Chrome recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and launched Chrome 69. It has a whole host of new features, including a slick new design.

In September 2008, Google released the beta version of the first ever Google Chrome browser, and this week marks a decade since it came on the scene. Now, more than 1bn people use the browser.

The company has now revealed Chrome 69, as well as some insights into where it is headed in the future.

Fresh new design

For Chrome 69, the company has redesigned icons, created more rounded shapes and introduced a new colour palette. The new design was based on Material Design principles.

Google said this is in an effort to boost productivity for users. Users can even add the search bar to the bottom of the page in iOS and can enjoy general simplification of the menus in Chrome.

Speeding things up

Google Chrome calls the box that combines the search and address bar into one the ‘omnibox’ and it will now be even more convenient to use. The omnibox will display answers to questions in the address bar without having to open a new tab, from football scores to local weather. There are also plans to make Google Drive files searchable direct from the omnibox very soon.

Tab backgrounds can now be customised with the photo of the user’s choice and shortcuts can be created directly from the new tab. To do the latter, you open a new tab and click ‘Add Shortcut’.

Winning the war against HTTPS

The battle against HTTP websites has been ongoing for some time. As far back as Chrome 56, the company had started to issue warnings about the lack of security on HTTP sites.

Now, in Chrome 69, HTTPS sites no longer have the ‘secure’ wording in the address bar. This leaves only HTTP sites marked as ‘not secure’. This warning text will soon be red, emphasising that users should not use these sites.

40 other security fixes have been managed by the Chrome team, many of them found by external security researchers. External experts often report bugs to Google’s Project Zero.

The end of the URL as we know it?

According to Adrienne Porter Felt, an engineering manager on the Chrome security team, the company is planning major changes to URLs. She told Wired that “people have a really hard time understanding URLs”.

She continued: “We we want to move toward a place where web identity is understandable by everyone – they know who they’re talking to when they’re using a website and they can reason about whether they can trust them … It’s important we do something, because everyone is unsatisfied by URLs. They kind of suck.”

It is not yet clear how the team will do this, but it will involve helping people pay attention to the elements they should, such as site identity indicators.

For the developers out there, Google has introduced a bevy of new features, including Scroll Snap for CSS and display notches.

The future of Google Chrome

Artificial intelligence (AI) will play an even bigger role in future versions, according to the Chrome development team. It said: “Imagine searching on Chrome for a singer you just heard, and having Chrome show you not just their bio, but also their upcoming concert near you and where to purchase tickets. With AI, Chrome will also better understand what you’re trying to get done, and help you do so faster.”

Augmented reality is also set to become a major feature for Chrome, with the team explaining that the browser will harness the technology to make things such as furniture shopping much easier.

Google Chrome logo. Image: BigTunaOnline/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects