Google has started rolling out Chrome 76 to Mac, Windows, and Linux devices globally. The latest version will include all the changes that have already been discussed in the recent weeks. Google says that Chrome 76 (version 76.0.3809.89) for Android will become available on Google Play over the next few weeks, and it also includes stability and performance improvements. For those who would like to see a full list of the changes can go to Git log, and can file a bug if they see any issues there.
The major improvements are made in the Incognito Mode. The latest release will now make it harder for publications, which rely on subscriptions, to detect if a user is using the Incognito Mode for browsing their websites. Some publishers have used a loophole in Chrome to deter metered paywall circumvention. These websites use FileSystem API loophole to detect whether a person is browsing in Incognito Mode and once detected, they provide users a different experience, that is, they are still able to limit the “free articles”.
To get more clarity on the subject, let’s take a look at an example. Generally, a subscription-based publication gives a certain number of free articles in a month. If you are browsing a publication like this, it generally mentions the number of ‘free articles’ that you can read in a month. Once you pass that ‘free article’ limit, the publication will ask you to subscribe to read more articles.
In a bid to skip this limit, users generally visit such sites through Incognito Mode. However, these sites have mechanisms (such as access to cookies) in place that can detect the free article count. With the latest modification in Chrome, these sites won't be able to detect if a user is browsing in Incognito Mode.
“Sites that wish to deter meter circumvention have options such as reducing the number of free articles someone can view before logging in, requiring free registration to view any content, or hardening their paywalls. Other sites offer more generous meters as a way to develop affinity among potential subscribers, recognising some people will always look for workarounds. We suggest publishers monitor the effect of the FileSystem API change before taking reactive measures,” Barb Palser, Partner Development Manager, News and Web Partnerships, had said when she wrote a blog post explaining the changes.
Further, starting with the Chrome 76, the Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) will now check for updates daily instead of every three days before. Additionally, Chrome 76 will block Flash by default in the browser. However, users still have the option to switch back to the current “Ask first” option for a few more releases. Google says that by not using Flash, users would be able to enjoy “faster, safer, and more battery-efficient browsing experience.” Adobe had announced the end of support for Flash in July 2017.