At long last, Google looks finally set to launch the next iteration of its immensely popular Chrome web browser. Dubbed version 81, the new version of the browser was originally due to arrive on March 17 but was delayed because of the coronavirus that continues to spread across the globe.
On March 18, the Mountain View firm announced it was pausing the delivery of all new updates for both Google Chrome and Chrome OS. This, the firm argued, was to ensure a stable, secure and reliable experience for the increasing number of people working from home in an effort to curb the spread of the pandemic.
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Eight days later, Google announced it was resuming the releases of Chrome and Chrome OS updates with an adjusted schedule. The tech firm announced Chrome 81 would start rolling out for users during the week of April 7, which is next week.
So what can you expect from Chrome 81? Well, the new browser version doesn’t radically overhaul what’s proceeded it, but it does introduce a few new features that are noteworthy.
First up is Augmented Reality (AR). Google is bolstering support for AR in Chrome 81 by giving developers more tools that leverage the emerging technology on the web.
Google has been a big proponent of AR and recently launched a new feature in Search that lets users with compatible devices place particular animals in the real world. This offers an unparalleled sense of size and sheer scale that you simply can’t get from viewing pictures online.
Chrome 81 also brings Near Field Communications (NFC) to mobile. In theory, this means users should be able to scan items in the real world and be fed with relevant information or links to related sites.
Just like AR though, the functionality of NFC will depend on how developers take advantage of the tools offered by Google for Chrome.
Finally, Chrome 81 also introduces a number of experience tweaks designed to improve its usability overall. Chief of these is a new media bar for Chrome on Android that can be used to adjust the playback of content from a user’s notification panel. This feature in particular will certainly be welcomed by anyone that likes to listen to audio from Chrome will scrolling through their social media feeds or messaging friends on WhatsApp.
As part of its readjusted release schedule for Chrome, Google has actually ditched version 82 of the browser. Don’t worry though, the Mountain View company is releasing Chrome 83 earlier and will bundle all Chrome 82’s features with it.
Chrome 83 is expected to start rolling out in mid-May. Just like Chrome 81, the new software will be available for Android, iPhone, Windows, Mac and Linux.
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