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What’s New in Chrome 32

Craig Buckler

Chrome 32 final was released on January 14. You possibly didn’t notice, but that’s the beauty of silent automated updates. There are a fair number of new features. It’s a mixed bag but the first will delight developers everywhere…

Mobile Debugging

Chrome 32 can natively connect to Android mobile devices over USB. This permits operations such as:

  • Screencasting: a screencast of your device is shown beside the developer tools. You can inspect elements and send touch events with ease.
  • Port-forwarding: if you’re developing on a local server, such as localhost:8080, port forwarding allows your device to connect.

There’s too much to cover here, so look out for further Chrome articles coming soon.

Noisy Tab Indicators

Auto-playing media can be irritating. I often open dozens of tabs from an email or RSS application only to find one — or more — starts playing music or video. It’s necessary to visit every tab until I find the offending site.

Chrome 32 now highlights noisy tabs:

Chrome noisy tabs

There are similar icons if a site is accessing your webcam or broadcasting to your TV via Chromecast.

Unfortunately, it’s not perfect — you’ll only see an icon when the page is playing native HTML5 audio, video or using the built-in PPAPI Flash plugin. Older NPAPI Flash and Silverlight plug-in media won’t be detected.

Windows 8 Metro Mode

If Google’s calling it Metro mode, so will I! Presuming Chrome is your default browser (choosing Relaunch Chrome in Windows 8 mode will do that), you can launch it from the Start as a full-screen Metro app. It also provides it’s own taskbar with a launcher button, installed apps, and a clock.

Chrome Metro mode

It’s slightly bizarre. Metro Chrome doesn’t support standard Windows app features such as good touch control, pinch-to-zoom, the share charm, or snap mode — IE11 offers a better integrated experience. It’s almost as though Google want to create Chrome OS on Windows. I’m sure it will improve, but I can’t imagine many people will use it until it does.

Supervised Users

Chrome’s new supervised user feature allows you to create profiles for other people, manage their permissions, and view browsing history. To use it, select Settings from the Chrome menu and locate the User section. In essence, you’re defining a new profile for Chrome without creating another user account on your OS. It’s ideal for those with young children or other family members who require guidance when browsing the web.

For more information, refer to Supervised users.

Stronger Malware Warning

The download tray now shows an obvious message when your partner, children, parents, or friends inevitably download a file of dubious origin…

Chrome malware notice

Miscellaneous Updates

A few other features that snuck in under the radar…

  • CSS pretty-printing is now available in the Developer Tools to de-minify code.
  • Chrome has switched from native OS controls to its own Auro UI stack — take a look at the window scroll bars. It permits a consistent UI across devices (although I suspect few people will notice). I doubt their own controls will be faster or use fewer resources either.
  • Windows users are now restricted to downloading extensions from the Chrome Web Store (developers can still test extensions locally, though).
  • PDF files are opened using the built-in viewer; the Adobe Reader plug-in is disabled.
  • The address bar (OK — Omnibox) now forgets mis-typed URLs if it resulted in a 404 error.
  • The browser will warn users when accessing sites using weaker security keys.
  • 21 security issues have been addressed.

Chrome 32 is as good as it’s ever been. I’m not wholly convinced by the features that eschew standard conventions in favor of Google’s own OS ideas, but it won’t stop users migrating to the browser.