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Chrome 90 rolling out: AV1 encoder optimized for video calls, easily hide Reading List

Following version 89’s release on Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux, the next release of Google’s browser is rolling out. Chrome 90 is here with a handful of tweaks and underlying additions.

Chrome on desktop now features an AV1 encoder that’s optimized for video conferencing with WebRTC. The new codec offers better compression efficiency and reduces bandwidth consumption, while improving visual quality. It makes possible video on low bandwidth networks (30kbps and under), while screen sharing is much more efficient compared to VP9. A decoder was introduced with Chrome 70 in 2018.

The browser will first attempt to load over HTTPS when a protocol isn’t specified by users before falling back to HTTP (as necessary). This change should be more widely available in Chrome 90 for Android and desktop.

After introducing in the last desktop release, Google now lets you hide the Reading List without having to use chrome://flags. Right-clicking the Bookmark Bar reveals a new “Show Reading List” option at the bottom of the menu.

Chrome’s Lite mode — previously named “Data Saver” — will reduce the effective bitrate of videos on cellular connections. Similarly, HTTPS images will be compressed in this mode.

Other user-facing features in this release include “Copy link to highlight” that gets rid of the need to download a separate Chrome extension and the ability to rename windows by right-clicking on the tab strip. Meanwhile, the PDF viewer sees some design tweaks, ability to see document properties, and a Presentation mode. These features are still rolling out.

Chrome 90 uses version 9.0 of the V8 JavaScript engine.

A WebXR Depth Sensing API will let web experiences measure the physical distance between your Chrome device and real-world objects. This is useful for physics and occlusion in AR experiences.

PDF XFA forms will be partially supported in Chrome 90.

Chrome 90 for Windows adds support for Intel’s Control Flow Enforcement Technology (CET or Hardware-enforced Shadow Stacks) on supported hardware.

For the past year, Google has tested only showing the registrable domain in the address bar to combat how long URLs that happen to include the correct page name trick people into thinking they’re on the desired/reputable site. The Omnibox bar will soon just show the domain rather than a full URL. Google plans a full launch of this change in a future release. This truncation can be disabled with a right-click of the address bar and selecting “Always show full URLs.”



Chrome 90 continues work on less intrusive permission requests. Google will automatically block prompts — like for website notifications — that you’re unlikely to permit. Instead of a prompt, a struck-through bell icon will appear at the end of the address bar. Tapping opens a pop-up to allow alerts that you’re interested in and link to manage settings.

Google is starting to add preferences for controlling FLoC: Chrome Settings > Privacy and security > Privacy sandbox. This preference is not yet widely rolled out as it’s still in limited testing.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: