Chrome Browser 33, Now in Beta, Includes Many New Developer Features

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-01-22

Chrome Browser 33, Now in Beta, Includes Many New Developer Features

Google's Chrome Web browser stable Version 32 was just released to users last week, which means that the Chrome beta Version 33 is now in the development pipeline for eventual promotion and release to users.

The Chrome 33 beta version has a host of intriguing new features that will help developers extend the browser and its capabilities even more for Chrome enthusiasts. The nascent new capabilities were unveiled by Dominic Cooney, a Chrome software engineer, in a Jan. 16 post on The Chromium Blog.

"[The] Chrome Beta channel release kicks off the new year with a slew of new features for developers ranging from Custom Elements, to web speech synthesis and improved WebFont downloading," wrote Cooney.

Most of the changes apply to desktop versions of Chrome and Chrome for Android, he wrote.

A key new feature is what Google calls Custom Elements, which allows Web developers to define new types of HTML elements to use in their Web applications, according to Cooney. "The spec is one of several new API primitives landing under the Web Components umbrella."

Custom Elements will allow developers to define new HTML/DOM elements, create elements that extend from other elements, logically bundle together custom functionality into a single tag and extend the API of existing DOM elements, he wrote. Custom Elements will also allow developers to architect their apps and code in much cleaner ways, he added.

Another key new feature is a Web Speech API, which enables Web developers to add speech recognition and synthesis to their Web pages, according to Cooney. "We added the recognition part last year, and today's release is the first to include speech synthesis. For example, your dictations could be synthesized to play back in a different language."

The new beta Version 34 of Chrome also has moved away from supporting the old Netscape-era NPAPI plug-ins, as previously announced by Google in September 2013. That move was made starting this month because NPAPI isn't used or supported on mobile devices.

NPAPI support on Macintosh and Windows will be completely phased out by the end of the year, and on Linux, Chromium will no longer support NPAPI plug-ins starting as early as April, wrote Cooney.

Chrome Browser 33, Now in Beta, Includes Many New Developer Features

Other changes aimed at developers in the Chrome 34 beta include the new availability of the requestAutocomplete API for easy Web payments for Macintosh users, as well as the optimization of WebFont downloading and support for the latest version of the Web Notification API. As that new API is adopted, the legacy API will be removed over time, so developers should update their Websites if they're using it, wrote Cooney.

In a related note, the latest Dev channel edition of Chrome, Version 34, has been designated for work by developers as they work on that future version of the browser. The Dev channel version has been updated to 34.0.1797.2 for Windows, Mac and Linux, according to a post on the Google Chrome Releases Blog by Daniel Xie of the Chrome team.

Earlier this week, two Chrome browser extensions that were recently converted into malicious ad distributors by new owners were removed by Google from the Play store app galleries. The removal follows changes that Google made to its app user policies in December that allows the company to remove apps that are modified after users agree to their original terms of use. The extensions, called Add to Feedly and Tweet This Page, were recently changed by their new owners.

Google does not permit app developers to say their apps will do one thing and then deliver a different user experience, according to its user policies. The use policies state that apps that violate those terms will be deleted from the Play store. Google encourages users to flag and report such apps so that they can be removed.

Earlier in January, Google released the Chrome Version 32 Web browser to the stable channel for users. The new release includes indicators on the browser tabs so that users can quickly find tabs that may be running audio sound clips, Webcams or Webcasts, which can be distracting. Also included in the latest browser is a different look for Windows 8's Metro mode, as well as the automatic blocking of malware files. The feature that will let users shut down tabs that have unwanted audio files was introduced in November 2013 as a beta feature and is now being integrated as a standard feature. Users can visually scan their browser tabs to find the noisy, offending tab so that it can be quickly closed.

Eleven security fixes were also built in, including for four high-threat issues and one medium-threat issue. Several known issues remain, including keyboard input problems in Windows 8 Metro mode, while dragging and dropping files into Chrome may not work properly.

In September 2013, the Chrome browser celebrated its fifth birthday. Launched in 2008 as a desktop or laptop application, Chrome today is widely used as a mobile browser on many different devices by users to browse the Web and conduct searches whether they are at home, at work, traveling or vacationing.

Chrome has had quite a ride since its birth. In June 2012, it surpassed Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the world's most used browser for the first time, and it added lots of useful features over the years to encourage even more users to adopt it.


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