Google Unveils Beta Chrome 37 Web Browser With Key Improvements

Chrome 37 Beta for Windows gets rid of its old Graphics Device Interface text renderer in favor of the Windows API DirectWrite.

Google Chrome 37 Beta for Windows

The new Chrome 37 Beta Web browser release from Google will be converted into the Stable release of Chrome in about four to six weeks, and when it does, it will bring a host of improvements that will benefit Windows users, including a move to the Windows DirectWrite API.

The Chrome 37 Beta improvements were announced by Emil A. Eklund, a Google software engineer, in a July 17 post on The Chromium Blog. "Today's Chrome Beta channel release includes a slew of new developer features to help you make richer, faster and more compelling Web content and apps, especially for mobile devices," wrote Eklund. "Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to Chrome for Android, Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome OS."

One of the biggest updates in the new Chrome Version 37 Beta is support for DirectWrite, which is a Microsoft Windows API that provides clear, high-quality text rendering even on high DPI displays, wrote Eklund. "Before DirectWrite, Chrome used the Graphics Device Interface (GDI) to render text. GDI dates back to the mid-80s and reflects the engineering tradeoffs of that time, particularly for slower, lower-resolution machines. The switch to DirectWrite has been a top user request for years, and required extensive re-architecting and streamlining of Chrome's font rendering engine."

What this means for users, wrote Eklund, is "better-looking fonts and increased rendering performance as we roll out DirectWrite, with no changes required by Web developers. Assuming everything goes smoothly, all users will experience the improvements by the Chrome 37 stable release."

Also included in Chrome 37 Beta is support for the <dialog> HTML5 element, "which enables developers to create styled dialog boxes in their Web applications and control them via a JavaScript API," wrote Eklund. "The <dialog> element is a better-designed alternative to showModalDialog(), which is now disabled as we recently announced."

Another change in the new beta version is that the Web Cryptography JavaScript API is enabled by default for the first time, "allowing developers to perform cryptographic operations such as hashing, signature generation/verification and encryption," he wrote.

Subpixel font scaling is also now supported, which enables smooth animations of text between font sizes, while "TouchEvents are now longs instead of integers, enabling higher-fidelity touch interactions on high-DPI displays," wrote Eklund.

Also getting changes are the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) cursor values "zoom-in" and "zoom-out," which are now unprefixed, while the number of cores on a physical machine can now be accessed by navigator.hardwareConcurrency, he wrote.

In addition, the user's preferred languages are now accessible by navigator.languages, and the language change event is fired when this is updated, while the new CSS Shapes Module allows developers to define non-rectangular text-wrapping boundaries around floated elements.

The DirectWrite addition applies only to the Windows version of Chrome 37 Beta while the other changes also apply to Chrome for Android, Mac, Linux and Chrome OS, wrote Eklund.

The Chrome 37 Beta version was unveiled just a day after the Chrome 36 Stable Web browser was released by Google, featuring several new capabilities and improvements, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Also released was a new Stable version of Chrome for Android.