What's New in Chrome and ChromeOS 107

What’s New in Chrome and ChromeOS 107

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Google updates Chrome like clockwork. Every month, you can expect a new version of the browser, with new features and changes for all of us to enjoy. Chrome 107, in particular, focuses changes on Chromebooks, with ChromeOS 107 including a Stage Manager type camera function and the ability to shut down your laptop without putting it to sleep.

New Features in Chrome 107

First, let’s take a look at Chrome 107, Google’s latest update to the web browser you’re probably using right now. How-To Geek’s Joe Fedewa took a look under the hood to see what new features and changes you can expect when you hit the “Update” button. That said, this update was relatively light.

Google’s new CDM is officially here

Chrome 107 is the first version of the browser to include Google’s new CDM (Content Decryption Module). In short, a CDM is what allows DRM-restricted content to play in a browser. Without the CDM, you wouldn’t be able to watch services like Netflix, as they couldn’t verify that you had the right to watch their content.

Chrome and Chromium based browsers currently use Widevine CDM, but it will soon be retired in favor of Google’s new version. Chrome 107 is the beginning of this release, while other Chromium browsers you will receive the updated CDM on November 15. By December 6, the existing Widevine CDM will no longer work; be sure to update your browser to continue viewing DRM content on the web.

User agent reduction

Google advances with its user agent reduction plan. User-agent reduction aims to reduce the amount of user data in the “user-agent chain,” which typically allows servers and networks to see your application, operating system version, and other identifying information. Trackers can use this information for fingerprinting, in which they create profiles of you to follow you through your browsing activity.

With Chrome 107, Google entered “Phase 5” of this plan. The big takeaway for us is that this update helps protect our online identities a little better.

New features in Chrome OS 107

With this update cycle, Google has focused more on Chromebooks, which is exciting for those of us who have ChromeOS machines. Thanks to Chrome UnboxedWe have our first look at what’s new:

camera frame

Any Chromebook user with a relatively new iPad will appreciate this change. ChromeOS 107 offers Camera Framing for compatible devices, a feature that uses software to track head movements during video calls. It’s similar to Apple’s Center Stage and makes it easier to engage with people when they’re on the go. If your Chromebook supports it, you’ll see a pop-up alert to turn on the feature after updating to ChromeOS 107. It will also appear as a quick settings option.

Close your Chromebook without it sleeping

If you’re the administrator of your Chromebook, you can choose to disable the feature that automatically puts the device to sleep when you close the lid. If you ever need to close your Chromebook to transport it, but need to keep certain processes running in the background, this is the feature for you.

Virtual desktop upgrades

With ChromeOS 107, Google is introducing some great updates to virtual desktops. First is the ability to merge desktops. If you find some of your virtual desktops a bit redundant, merging them is a quick fix to clean things up. Instead of just the “X” you see to close a desktop in overview mode, you’ll now see a merge icon that moves that desktop to the one to its left.

Also new is the ability to save desktops for later, perfect for those times when you want to temporarily clear a desktop, but not lose its content. The new “Save desktop for later” button in overview mode can save what you were doing for later.

Press and hold to access secondary keys

Chromebooks will soon have the ability to access secondary keys, such as accents and special characters, by holding down the corresponding keys. This feature is currently in testing in Chrome 107, but you can set its flag to test it right now. Enter the following in your browser: chrome://flags#enable-cros-diacritics-on-physical-keyboard-longpress then press enter. Enable the flag, restart the browser, then try holding down different keys to see what happens.

Watch for privacy indicators

This feature was detected by geek how to do it, and it’s a welcome addition to ChromeOS. Like macOS, ChromeOS will soon display privacy indicators to let you know when an app is using your webcam or microphone. Soon you will be able to test it through a flag in the Canary channel, which means that you will have to download chrome canary if you haven’t already.

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