Soon after the release of Chrome 59 for Windows, Linux, and Mac users, Google has now released Chrome 59 for Android users as well. The update brings security improvements, faster page load times, and much more. The more notable change includes full support for animated PNG files and a new Image Capture API.
Chrome 59 for Android also introduces full support for aPNG which is basically similar to GIF format but comes with additional support for 24-bit images and 8-bit transparency as well. It caught developers’ attention after Apple adopted it in iMessages with iOS 10. Android Police reports that there is also the introduction of image capture API that essentially gives web pages more control over your device’s camera. The new API lets webpages choose between multiple cameras available on your device, zoom, use flash, and even focus on an image. It takes photos in full resolution as well, and as is the norm, it asks for permission to access the camera before performing the task.
Chrome version 59.0.3071.92 for Android has been released and will be available on Google Play over the course of the next week.
An interesting problem has come to light for Google Chrome users, revolving around the browser’s built-in DRM scheme for accessing content on services such as Netflix. With Chrome 57, the next major Chrome release, Google will disable the plugin settings page
chrome://plugins. That means anyone who wants to disable any built-in plugins, including the DRM decryption module called Widevine, can no longer do so.
It’s likely the vast majority of Chrome users just leave the Widevine decryption setting as is. For those who want to disable it, however, it’s an important setting and one that shouldn’t be removed so easily.
As Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing points out, a component like Widevine is not immune to security flaws. However, security issues discovered in DRM schemes are harder to publicize due to the legal restraints put in place to discourage their disclosure. That means security issues can exist for months or years without the public finding out. Because of that, some users want to disable Widevine and do without DRM-laden video streaming services on their PCs.
Chrome 57 is currently being tested in the browser’s dev channel.
Despite the sudden outcry, Google has been quietly planning the end of the plugins page for several months. In May 2016, the Chromium team proposed disabling
chrome://plugins. The page was seen as irrelevant since the primary reason for maintaining it was to control Chrome’s built-in Flash player, and controls for Flash are now available in Chrome’s primary settings.
In October, the team decided that Widevine would become enabled for everyone once
chrome://plugins disappeared from the browser, according to a comment from a Chromium team member.
It appears Google may be rethinking its new approach to Widevine in Chrome. Several comments in Chromium’s bug tracker are discussing the issue, noting that the “Internet is not happy” about the loss of control over the decryption module. Nothing has been decided yet, but it looks like Google may decide to enable a settings option to disable Widevine in Chrome.