What’s New in Chrome 74, Arriving April 23
The stable version of Chrome 74 is set to land on April 23rd. It will include a dark mode on Windows, Incognito detection blocking, support for media keys in PiP, various Chrome OS improvements, and a lot more.
It’s worth noting that while these are all planned features in Chrome 74, there’s always the chance they don’t end up making it into the final release and get pushed to 75 (or beyond). Still, we do expect to see at least most of this stuff in 74, even if still behind a flag.
Dark Mode for Windows
Chrome 73 was a huge release and included a dark mode for Mac. With Chrome 74, it will officially be available for Windows. What’s even cooler is that Chrome will follow system settings—if you have dark mode enabled in Windows, Chrome will respect that. The same goes for light mode.
Incognito Detection Blocking
Some websites use a trick to detect when a user is viewing using Incognito Mode for improved tracking and advertising. Starting in Chrome 74, it will be impossible for sites to detect Incognito Mode, so you can truly browse in peace. It’s also worth noting that this feature may not be available in the main system settings initially, but it should be available behind a flag. It will likely move beyond the flag and be available to everyone in Chrome 75.
Media Key Support for PiP Video
In Chrome 70, Google enabled support for PiP (Picture-in-Picture) video, allowing users to pop videos out of their tab and float on top of other things. In Chrome 74, these PiP windows will be getting additional functionality with support for keyboard media player controls.
The word on the street is that PiP windows should also be getting a mute button at some point, though it’s unclear whether that will be in Chrome 74 or beyond.
Some users experience motion sickness with Chrome’s animation features when using parallax scrolling or zooming. In Chrome 74, there will be an option to disable these features. It sounds like websites will have to respect this setting, however, so it may not work across all sites on the web.
Lots of Chrome OS Goodies: Linux Container Backup Support, USB Access, and More
While the above-listed items are probably the most significant things for the browser itself, there are a lot of things happening for Chrome OS, especially where Linux apps are concerned.
Linux Container Backups
A new back up and restore feature for Linux containers will make its way into Chrome OS 74, allowing users to, well, back up and restore their full Linux container including all files and installed applications easily.
Audio Support for Linux Apps
Up to this point, Linux apps haven’t supported audio playback. Starting in Chrome OS 74, that should change. This means that Linux music and video players will work a lot better moving forward. You know, if that’s something you’ve been waiting for.
GPU Acceleration for Linux Apps
Similar to audio support for Linux apps, Chrome OS 74 should also bring GPU acceleration at least to some baseboards. It looks like the initial rollout may be limited to specific Chromeboxes, but this should pave the way for support to roll out to all Chrome OS devices with Linux support soon after.
USB Device Access in Linux Apps
If you’ve been longing for the days when you could debug your Android phone using the Linux terminal on your Chromebook (my God, what a sentence), the time is nigh. Starting in 74, apps running in Linux containers will be able to access USB-connected devices. This feature is currently behind a flag in Chrome 74 Beta (
chrome://flags/#crostini-usb-support ), which is likely also going to be the case in the Stable release.
Linux Apps Search and Installation
If you haven’t already gathered, there’s a lot of focus on Linux apps in Chrome OS 74. Another new feature will help users find and install new Linux apps directly from the launcher. It will show currently-install applications, as well as previously-installed applications, and possibly (hopefully?) new applications available for installation. This will also make installing new Linux apps super easy. That’s cool.
This is currently found behind a flag in Chrome OS 74 Beta (
chrome://flags/#crostini-app-search ) and will likely remain there in the stable release.
A Fix for Hangouts Jankiness
There’s a bug that causes Hangouts video chat to present some lag and generally poor performance on Chrome OS. As first reported by About Chromebooks, this will likely be fixed in 74. Good.
A Look Ahead: Chrome 75 and Beyond
Compared to previous releases, Chrome 74 is light on features. It feels like a stopgap release to pave the way for the bigger things to come—of which there are a lot. Here’s a look at what to expect from Chrome 75 and beyond.
- Tab sending: You’ll be able to send tabs directly from one device to another. So if you’re reading on your phone and want to take over on your PC, this will let you do that. I can’t wait.
- Drive-by-download blocking: This will prevent automatic downloads generated from within ad frames. You know, a safety thing.
- Focus Mode: This removes the Omnibox, bookmarks bar, and all other potentially distracting elements from tabs and pops them out into standalone windows for focus.
- A separate menu for extensions: This would move extensions out of the main menu for a cleaner experience. Techdows has more info on this.
- Automatic image descriptions: A new accessibility setting will allow Chrome to determine image descriptions for the vision impaired automatically.
- Smoother scrolling: This one is courtesy of Microsoft and originally comes from Edge. Thanks, Microsoft!
- Motion and light sensor blocking: You’ll be able to disallow websites from accessing motion or light sensors on your devices.
- A new setup screen: The first run experience gets a makeover in 75.
- Reader mode: I would say this one of the most requested features for Chrome, and it looks like it’s finally coming in 75.
Chrome OS will also get a bunch of new features looking forward, mostly dealing with Linux apps:
- Linux container resizing: Give your Linux installation more drive space.
- Install PWSs from the Omnibox: This will make it a snap to add Progressive Web Apps to your Chromebook.
- USB access and search results for Linux apps: We mentioned above that these would likely show up as flags in Chrome OS 74, but they should be officially supported in Stable 75.
- Daily chained monitors: You can currently connect multiple monitors to a Chrome OS device with a proper dock, but soon daisy-chained monitors will be supported. That should make for a more streamlined setup.
- Android VPN support in Linux apps: Android VPN apps currently work on Android and Chrome apps, but soon they’ll also support Linux apps.
There are undoubtedly more features in the works for Chrome 74 (and beyond) this is just a look at some of the most important things that should show up. You can take a closer look at all the little details on the Chrome Status page.