Chrome 90 is here with an AV1 encoder and new augmented reality APIs [Update]

Google released Chrome 89 over a month ago, offering a bunch of new features and improvements including enforcing developers to offer offline experiences for progressive web apps (PWAs) and new APIs for content sharing. Now Chrome 90 is here, headlined by enhancements such as support for read-only files in clipboard, a new AV1 encoder, and blocking of HTTP port 554.

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Chrome 90 includes an AV1 encoder that is optimized for video conference calls. The AV1 codec offers better compression efficiency which means that it will be very beneficial to users on networks with low bandwidth speeds.

The browser will also be blocking port 554 for HTTP, HTTPS, or FTP servers as it has been used in some attack vectors. It is interesting to note that Chrome previously blocked this port too but unblocked it after backlash from enterprises. However, Google has once again decided to restrict connections via this port as its usage on Chrome's Dev channel is just 0.00003% of all requests.

Other developer-facing improvements in Chrome 90 include allowing web applications to query device attributes, a CSS property for smoother interpolation between aspect ratios and two others for handling clipping margins, enhancements to certain HTML tags, as well as a shared superclass and constructor for ranges. Similarly, an API has been released that allows web components that make use of Shadow DOM to use server-side rendering (SSR) to reduce reliance on JavaScript and improve performance. Custom elements will also be able to expose their state using the state() pseudo class.

WebAssembly now supports exception handling, and Chrome will now be placing protections against the application/x-protobuffer MIME type by adding it to the list maintained by Cross-Origin-Read-Blocking (CORB). The browser also used a content security policy directive to allow developers to disable Flash. But now that Flash is dead, this directive is being discontinued too. Furthermore, Chrome will manage file pieces which are downloaded out-of-order in a simplified way, making the job easier for web developers who previously had to write code for this themselves. WebAudio and file URL management techniques are also being changed to align with industry standards and offer better interoperability with other browsers.

Over on the consumer-facing side of things, a significant addition is the ability to copy-paste read-only files from the clipboard instead of having to rely on drag-and-drop. With respect to augmented reality (AR), sites can now use WebXR to query and estimate environmental lighting conditions to offer more natural effects. In the same vein, the WebXR Depth API allows calculation of environmental depth to enhance physics-based effects and occlusion.

If Chrome on your device has not updated to version 90 automatically, head over to Help > About Google Chrome to trigger the update. Next up is Chrome 91 which is currently in the Dev channel, scheduled to hit Beta on April 22, with a Stable release expected on May 25.

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Update April 14: After a bit of a delay, Google has flipped the switch, which means you will be able to update to v90. You can head to the 3 dotted menu, select Help > About Google to start the download and relaunch with the update, or you can download the offline installer for 32- or 64-bit via this page.

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