Google has released the latest Stable Version 31 of its Chrome OS operating system while also launching a new beta Version 32 of its Chrome Web browser that includes a host of new features being developed for future Stable releases of Chrome.
The new Stable edition of Chrome OS, which is officially known as Version 31.0.1650.61, was announced Nov. 21 by Ben Henry of the Google Chrome team in a post on the Chrome Releases Blog. The new version, which contains a number of bug fixes, security updates and feature enhancements, is for all Chrome OS devices except the Acer C7, the HP Chromebook 11 and the HP Pavilion Chromebook, wrote Henry.
Some of the improvements include that users can position the Chrome OS Shelf where they prefer it to be seen, whether on the bottom, left or right sides of the screen, according to Henry. The launcher icon, app icons and status tray also received changes to make them more responsive to a finger touch on the screen, while the launcher icon was moved to a fixed position on the bottom left of the screen, he wrote.
Meanwhile, the Chrome 32 beta Web browser release gets some interesting updates for developers to make future browser versions faster and more secure for users, according to a Nov. 21 post by Irvang Joshi, a Google software engineer, on the Chromium Blog. Most of the changes apply to desktop versions of Chrome and Chrome for Android, wrote Joshi.
Among the key changes are improvements to the animated WebP image format, such as true alpha channel (8-bit) capabilities as compared to a binary (1-bit) alpha in GIFs, according to Joshi. This change can help reduce the size of images on Web pages without losing image quality.
Another change in the new beta Chrome 32 is the disabling of the double-tap zoom function, which garnered little function for users but caused response delays in Chrome, wrote Joshi. "Previously, to support double-tap zoom, Chrome had to delay every touch event sent to the webpage by 300ms to allow the user to tap a second time. Now mobile-friendly sites that are already formatted to automatically fit in the page width will receive click events instantly and can respond to user input more quickly."
Chrome beta 32 also now incorporates a big change announced in September, when Google said it was working to drop support in Chrome for Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) plug-ins. The latest beta version now blocks most NPAPIs by default, as previously scheduled.
The beta version also includes a new Vibration API for Chrome for Android, which will allow developers to add tactile feedback in the form of vibration to the user experience, wrote Joshi. "Use cases include improved accessibility and more engaging browser-based games."
Earlier in November, Google launched the latest Stable edition of its Chrome Web browser, Version 31, making it the default version for users who want the latest release edition of its popular browser.
The new Chrome Stable browser is officially known as Version 31.0.1650.48 and is available for free download for Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome Frame. Some 25 security fixes are included in the latest version, addressing a wide variety of issues in the browser's code.
Launched in 2008, Chrome presently holds 40.4 percent of the global Web browser market, compared with 28.9 percent for its closest competitor, Microsoft's Internet Explorer, according to October 2013 data from StatCounter. Chrome celebrated its fifth birthday in early September. In June 2012, Chrome surpassed Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the world's most used browser for the first time.