The slow march of Chrome releases continues with version 104 of the popular Google browser. This update, available August 2, 2022, includes page loading experiences, better screen sharing tools, and a few user interface changes for Chromebooks.
Workout to speed up page loading
In the early days of the internet, browsers would load an entire page at once. Browsers and websites are finally starting to switch to “lazy loading,” where some content doesn’t load until it’s visible. However, Chrome only loads embedded content slowly if the page specifically allows it.
Google is testing an experiment called “LazyEmbeds” that will load some embedded content automatically, without the page asking for it. The trial is set to begin with 1% of people using stable Chrome 104.
Region capture for web applications
Chrome now has the ability to crop self-captured video tracks. The feature is called Region Capture, and it lets you choose which part of the screen you want to record or share.
The example provided by Google is video conferencing. You can always choose which tab you want to share, but now you can also select the area of the screen you want to share. This can be especially useful for hiding video conferencing controls while screen sharing.
Chromebooks get a new Start Menu
Google has been revamping the Chrome OS interface for a while now. One of the biggest changes comes in the app launcher. It now looks more like the Windows Start Menu.
The new “Productivity Launcher” floats in the corner of the screen like the Windows Start menu. It has a Google search bar and an Assistant shortcut at the top. You can right-click or tap and hold anywhere to sort by name or icon color. It’s a pretty big improvement over the old launcher.
Automatic light and dark themes for Chromebooks
Chromebooks have had “unofficial” dark and light themes for a while. Fortunately, functionality comes to the Static Channel along with the ability to switch themes automatically.
Previously, themes were only available if you enabled the feature tag. The ability to automatically switch themes day and night did not exist. Now, just like on Windows and macOS, Chromebooks have fully distinct light and dark themes.
System tray improvements for Chromebooks
Google is also revamping the System Tray on Chromebooks. This is the area that shows the clock, battery, and Wi-Fi. Chrome OS 104 adds the date to the system tray and brings a new calendar widget with it.
The clock is now divided to show the date on the left. When you select the date, you will get a great and great calendar widget. You can click on a date in the calendar for the “Open in Google Calendar” option. Google has also tweaked the notification design a bit.
What else is new?
Google now releases every version of Chrome every four weeks, which means great features aren’t infrequent. There is still a lot going on beneath the surface. You can read about many of these changes on the Google developer site as well as on the Chromium blog. We’ll highlight some of the changes here:
How to update google chrome
Chrome will automatically install the update on your device when it’s available. To immediately check for and install any available updates, click the three-dot menu icon and click Help > About Google Chrome.
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