What’s New in Chrome 19

Contributing Editor

I doubt you noticed but Chrome 19 was released this week. I rarely mention Chrome’s updates because, well, they’re rarely worth mentioning. However, I’ve discovered a few hidden gems in the latest browser…

Tab Syncing

The big new feature is tab syncing. If you’re using Chrome on two or more PCs/smartphones, you should see an “Other devices” link on the new tab page. Click it and you can open synchronized links. I say “should” because I haven’t been able to get it working.

Tab syncing has been available in Firefox for a while so I’m surprised it’s taken quite so long to appear in Chrome. Hopefully, you’ll have better luck than I did.

CSS3 calc() Support

The webkit team has finally implemented one of my favorite CSS3 features: the little-known calc() function. It allows you to define calculated dimensions, e.g.


#myelement { width: calc(50% - 2em + 4px); }

Chrome supports calc() with the -webkit prefix. Firefox uses -moz and IE9 is happy without prefixes. To use it effectively, you’ll need fallback code such as:


#myelement
{
	width: 46%;
	width: -webkit-calc(50% - 2em + 4px);
	width: -moz-calc(50% - 2em + 4px);
	width: -o-calc(50% - 2em + 4px);
	width: calc(50% - 2em + 4px);
}

Combined Settings Page

Choosing tool > Settings now displays a side menu with History, Extensions, Settings and Help. The Help page provides a couple of links and the update checker which normally appears on the “About” dialog (will that disappear soon?)

New JavaScript/ECMAScript 5.1 (Harmony) Features

A number of experimental JavaScript features have made their way from the Harmony specification into Chrome’s V8 engine. However, they’re not available by default — you’ll need to “Enable Experimental JavaScript” in chrome://flags. Language structures such as collections and proxies look great, but it’ll be some time before they’re available in all browsers.

Security and Bug Fixes

21 issues have been fixed in Chrome 19 and Google has paid almost $15,000 to eagle-eyed security hackers.

Chrome has remained fast and stable. It looks set to knock IE from the top of the browser usage chart during the summer of 2012. I’m not convinced any other vendor can prevent Google’s domination of the web and the software we use to access it.

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  • JasonC

    Forget chrome v 15,234. Just hurry up and release chrome for android tablets.

  • http://www.notesandtones.de Michael

    Any information on performance on stuff like “calc(50% – 2em + 4px)” ? Will we see a “flash of uncalced css”?

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      No – it will apply in the same way as a non-calculated dimension. It will take the processors a few extra milliseconds but that should be negligible even if you had thousands of calc() functions. For browsers, the biggest bottlenecks are bandwidth and redrawing.

  • http://twitter.com/nelmaven Nelson Rodrigues

    I like minimalism but Google has taken it too far with the Settings Page…
    They should stop stripping the UI just because they can. Don’t see where this new design is better than the last one.

  • http://www.cg-academy.net Chris Thomas

    Hey, is it me, or is there a stinker of a bug in this release with JS screen.height and screen.width values. I am using these to define my CSS, and.. in this version, they are reporting the wrong values. I have a dual monitor setup and both are reporting their pxl rez as 1600×1200, even though my second monitor is actually 1920×1080.

    This has worked fine up to this release, and all other browsers still work this way. Can anyone else confirm this issue?

  • Alfred Larsson

    Also added support for viewport size units.
    http://css-tricks.com/viewport-sized-typography/
    That article says it coming in chrome 20. but it came with 19 :D

  • http://www.bestsms4u.com/ Best SMS

    Chrome looks better then IE. I know many peoples who always prefer and love to use chrome.

  • http://www.oicgroup.net Rose

    Awesome gems. Chrome will always be my number 1 preferred browser to be used.