UPDATED 12:30 EST / DECEMBER 09 2020


Google focuses Chrome Dev Summit on privacy, app development and performance

Google LLC today provided an update on its efforts to create a more seamless internet experience for both web developers and users, regardless of the browser or device they use.

The update came at the kickoff of the company’s virtual Chrome Dev Summit, an annual conference that showcases Google’s latest developer tools. There are also updates coming to the Google Chrome browser itself.

In a blog post, Google provided a synopsis of its latest developments, saying that its focus has been on strengthening the web in three key areas. They include delivering a safer and more secure web experience for everyone, creating new tools for developers to build powerful, rich and diverse applications, and optimizing the Chrome browser to improve performance.

On the first area, Google spoke about its ongoing work on its Privacy Sandbox, which is an initiative that aims to develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web. New developments here include what Google calls “privacy-preserving alternatives” to the third-party cookies and other cross-site tracking mechanisms used by big internet companies to collect data on individual users.

Google said it’s introducing a new Click Conversion Measurement application programming interface that works by measuring ad conversations without using cross-site identifiers. It’s also debuting a new Trust Token API that helps to convey trust from one context to another without passively tracking users.

Staying with privacy, Google said it’s delivering the first stable release of Manifest V3 API, which is used by browser extensions to declare what permissions an extension requires, and is associated with a set of APIs through which the code can interact with web pages. However, the Manifest API has come in for criticism, since it creates a security risk in cases where users install a malicious or compromised web extension.

To that end, Google is adding more privacy controls to Manifest V3 that allow users to manage sensitive permissions after an extension has been installed.

On the application development side, Google said it’s introducing a new tool called Gravit Designer that lets developers read and write files with File System Access APIs. It also enables them to use specialized fonts that can be installed locally with the new Local Font Access API.

Progressive web applications, which are apps that are delivered through the web and built using common web technologies including HTML, CSS and JavaScript so they can run on any device, are getting better “discoverability capabilities.”

“In M86 we gave you the ability to list your PWA in the Play Store using Trusted Web Activity,” Google said. “We’ve now made it possible for you to start accepting payments using the new standardized Digital Goods API in Chrome 88.”

Google’s latest Chrome performance improvements are focused on making the browser faster and making it manage resources such as power, memory and CPU more efficiently. The new Profile Guided Optimization & Tab Throttling feature was introduced earlier this year to improve Chrome’s speed, and the latest version of that tool, version 8, leads to a further reduction in its memory footprint, Google said.

Google has updated its Web Vitals initiative too. Web Vitals aims to provide unified guidance for quality signals that are essential to delivering a great user experience on the web. In its update, Google said it plans to start including these metrics in its search ranking algorithms from May 2021. There’s also a new open-source website and tool called the Web Vitals Report that lets website developers query and visualize Web Vitals metrics data in the Google Analytics service.

Image: Google

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