In a similar vein, the Trust Token API lets a site like Gmail install a token that show you’re a “trusted” Gmail users, something that other sites could then see without knowing specifically who you are. This is something that would help cut down on things like web fingerprinting, which Google has already said it’s working to reduce. Broadly speaking, these updates are trying to replicate the functionality that cookies can deliver without giving websites nearly as much tracking information about who is using the browser.
Google is also updating its somewhat controversial extension security tool known as Manifest V3. Back in 2019, there was some drama around Manifest V3 as it sounded like it would stop ad blocking extensions from working properly. In today’s release, Google notes that it got “an abundance of helpful feedback” since it first shared the Manifest V3 proposal, and that since then it has been working with extension developers, “including ad blockers,” to continue changing and refining how Manifest V3 works. Developers interested in trying it can give it a go with the Chrome 88 beta release; the Chrome Web Store will start accepting Manifest V3 extensions starting in January with the Chrome 88 stable release.
As for more advanced web apps, Google today says that it’s making it easier for Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) to be found in the Google Play Store on Chromebooks. Earlier this year, the Twitter and YouTube TV listings in the Play Store were automatically able to recognize if you were browsing on a Chromebook and install the PWA rather than Android app. To make PWAs more capable, Google is enabling developers to accept payments using the Play Store billing APIs, another feature that’ll make PWAs more on part with their Android counterparts.
Finally, in terms of performance optimization, Google is extending the “Web Vitals” metrics it announced earlier this year. At a high level, Web Vitals are meant to give developers a clear look at quality signals that make for a good browsing experience. A subset of those, Core Web Vitals, are three specific metrics that tie back to user experience and will play into how Google ranks sites in search starting in May of 2021. Today, Google announced that a new, open-source Web Vitals Report will let developers visualize and compare their metrics in Google Analytics.
Google is going into far more detail about all these changes over the next two days at the Chrome Dev Summit, so if you’re a web developer, it might be worth tuning in and taking part in the virtual experience. As for everyone else, these changes might not impact your web-browsing experience immediately, but things like more secure extensions and tools to improve site performance will hopefully make for an increasingly stable internet.