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.”
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.
Google Unveils Beta Chrome 37 Web Browser With Key Improvements
The promotion of Chrome 36 to the stable channel for Windows, Mac and Linux includes rich notification improvements, the addition of a browser crash recovery bubble, a Chrome App Launcher for Linux, and a wide range of stability and performance updates. Also included were 26 security fixes that have been made by contributors.
The new stable version of Chrome for Android is now at Version 36 and includes several new features such as improved text rendering on non-mobile-optimized sites and many bug fixes and performance improvements.
The new versions are part of Google’s continuing efforts to refine and grow its Chrome browser and Chrome OS products. Google releases new experimental beta and development channels of future software releases so that they can be built, tested and updated before eventual distribution as stable release versions.
In May, Google promoted the previous Version 35 of its Chrome Web browser to the stable release channel, as well as the Version 35 releases of its Chrome OS and Chrome for Android products.
Earlier in May, Google announced that its Chrome team has been experimenting with improved URLs for future Chrome versions that could provide better protection for users against phishing attacks that trick them into visiting malicious Websites. Instead of long URLs that are confusing and hard to identify as genuine, shorter origin-chip URLs would mean that phishers couldn’t create offshoot URLs that could deceive users into visiting their sites.
The experiments involving the origin chip today don’t mean that the feature will eventually be included in Chrome browsers of the future. Instead, the testing is allowing developers to see if it is something that they would want to incorporate if the testing shows promise.
Google’s previous Chrome 34 Web browser was released April 8.
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 Web browser on many different devices.
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 has added many useful features over the years to encourage even more users to adopt it.