News ID: 237992
Published: 1142 GMT January 27, 2019

New change could ruin one of Google Chrome’s biggest advantages

New change could ruin one of Google Chrome’s biggest advantages

Google Chrome may soon be set for an update that could ruin one of the browser's most appealing features, it was emerged.

Google Chrome is the American tech giant's web browser that is incredibly popular, wrote.

In fact, Chrome is by far the most-used client on both desktops and mobile, according to NetMarketShare.

On desktops the Google browser was said to be used by 64.15 percent on users while on mobile it was claimed to hold a 63.16 percent share.

One of the reasons for Chrome's popularity is surely the high-degree of customisability it grants users.

Extensions are one of the most popular features offered by the software with ad-blocking add-ons especially rising in prominence.

However, it appears Google is working on changes to its extension system that could set limitations on ad-blockers.

The American tech giant has put together a document called ‘Manifest V3’ that can be viewed on Google Docs.

The file discusses the possibility of "potentially removing blocking options for most events", a move that could directly impact the functionality of popular blockers such as uMatrix and uBlock Origin.

A portion of the document reads, "In Manifest V3, we will strive to limit the blocking version of webRequest, potentially removing blocking options from most events (making them observational only).

"Content blockers should instead use declarativeNetRequest. It is unlikely this will account for 100 percent of use cases, so we will likely need to retain webRequest functionality in some form."

In response to the changes discussed, Raymond Hill, the developer of uMatrix and uBlock Origin, insisted the two extensions may ‘no longer exist’ in the near future.

He said, "If this (quite limited) declarativeNetRequest API ends up being the only way content blockers can accomplish their duty, this essentially means that two content blockers I have maintained for years, uBlock Origin ('uBO') and uMatrix, can no longer exist.

"Extensions act on behalf of users, they add capabilities to a 'user agent', and deprecating the blocking ability of the webRequest API will essentially decrease the level of user agency in Chromium, to the benefit of web sites which obviously would be happy to have the last word in what resources their pages can fetch/execute/render."

While Hill was keen to express his programs would not be able to function under the discussed change, it is expected that not all ad-blockers, such as Adblock Plus, would be affected as adversely.

As The Register pointed out, some ad-blockers would still be expected to function in some capacity if the proposed changes went ahead.

The document from Google not only incited a critical response from Raymond Hill, but also a score of other Chrome fans.

That led to Devlin Cronin, a software engineer for the Mountain View firm, noting the changes proposed were not final.

He said, "The webRequest API is not going to go away in its entirety. It will be affected, but the exact changes are still in discussion.

"This design is still in a draft state, and will likely change.

"Our goal is not to break extensions. We are working with extension developers to strive to keep this breakage to a minimum, while still advancing the platform to enhance security, privacy, and performance for all users."

The reiteration from Google insisting the changes are not set in stone means the final impacts on ad-blockers for Chrome is still unclear.


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