Google Chrome latest stable version offers APIs that could help some websites steal resources and offer more information about other user devices

Google Chrome v94 Latest Stable Version APIs
Controversial APIs in Latest version of Google Chrome? Pic credit: Junya Ogura/Flickr

Google Chrome version 94 has now entered the ‘Stable’ channel and will start rolling out as an OTA Update. The latest update to the Chromium-based web browser has some controversial APIs that some malicious web developers could abuse.

The latest stable version of the Google Chrome web browser is now available for all Windows OS users. Competing browser makers such as Mozilla and Apple have objected to at least two of the questionable APIs that offer excessive information to developers about users.

The latest Chrome ‘Stable’ version update has ‘Idle detection’ API as well as other app usage metrics which could be privacy and security concerns:

Google adopted a four-week update schedule for its Chrome web browser. However, the latest version, which is v94 of the popular web browser, has arrived within just three weeks of its previous iteration.

The latest version of the web browser contains the ‘Idle Detection’ API. Technical jargon aside, the API (Application Programing Interface) essentially allows developers of websites, web apps, and online services to know when a user is idle or not engaging with the website, app, or digital platform.

Needless to mention, companies such as Mozilla (makers of Firefox), and Apple Inc. (Safari web browser) have raised objections to the new API which Google Chrome v94 offers.

Mozilla claims the Idle Detection API opens up opportunities for “surveillance capitalism”. The not-for-profit company has openly claimed that a malicious site could utilize the API to use the device’s compute resources without the user consenting or knowing about it.

The second concerning API reportedly offers a new developer-side notification for global signals such as interaction with other apps instead of only the current browser window. Simply put, web developers will now have a good idea about the others apps and services users are interacting with.

Needless to mention, a large number of web developers have welcomed these new APIs. However, they obviously open up the possibility of misuse or abuse.

New features in Google Chrome v94:

Google is offering a new developer interface called VirtualKeyboard API. As the name suggests, the API offers better control over the virtual keyboard that appears in smartphones and tablets. Presently, User-Agent behavior or on-device parameters, control how the virtual keyboard appears.

Google Chrome v94 could significantly help improve gaming over remotely hosted gaming servers. The new low-level WebCodecs API will offer access to existing hardware and software media encoders and decoders.

Google has completely removed AppCache, and developers will now have to use Service Workers. Incidentally, Mozilla and Apple are removing AppCache from their respective web browsers.

Google Chrome users can obtain the v94 OTA update by clicking the dot menu -> Help -> About Google Chrome. The next update for the web browser is obviously v95 and could start rolling out from October 19.

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