Google Chrome 23 Released – Longer Battery Life, Easier Permissions, Do Not Track
New users can download and install Chrome 23 directly here. Alternatively there is also a full standalone offline installer here – this may be useful if you want to save the Chrome installation file e.g. to put on a flash drive and install on multiple computers without having to re-download it each time.
What’s New in Chrome 23? The official changelog lists 14 security fixes in detail – they include 6 rated High (paying out total rewards of $9,000 to the finders). There are also some cool ‘behind the scenes’ technical changes:
- Longer battery life when watching videos – Chrome 23 includes GPU accelerated video decoding for Windows (may also become available for Mac in the future). Dedicated graphics chips draw far less power than a computer’s CPU (processor), so using GPU accelerated video decoding while watching videos can increase battery life significantly.
In tests, Google report that the battery lasted 25% longer when GPU-accelerated video decoding was enabled [whilst watching 1080p 30 frames per second (fps) h.264 video on a W7 laptop]. So, if you regularly watch videos/films on YouTube etc in Chrome you should notice some improvement in battery life – if you don’t watch videos then you will not see any improvement.
- Easier website permissions – easier to view and control any website’s permissions for capabilities such as geolocation, pop-ups, and camera/microphone access. See our review of website permissions in Chrome 23 for more details.
- Do Not Track – adds an option to send a ‘Do Not Track’ request to websites and web services. Do Not Track (DNT) is a proposed web standard that allows you to let a website know you would like to opt-out of third-party tracking for purposes including behavioral advertising.
It does not block ads but may change the type of ads you see – instead of behavioral ads (targeted to your interests, based on the websites you visit and search terms used) you may see generic ads (not targeted, could be for anything). It is not obligatory for websites to honor your DNT option (making it fairly pointless in our opinion as even if you opt into this feature, websites can just ignore it).
Chrome 23 only adds DNT as an option – it is not enabled by default. If you want to enable DNT:
– Click the Menu in top right of Chrome and select ‘Settings’. On the Settings page, click the ‘+Show advanced settings’ link at the bottom of the page to display advanced settings
– In the Privacy section, tick the checkbox for ‘Send a Do Not Track request with your browsing traffic’:
– An information box on DNT appears:
– Click OK to proceed and enable DNT.
- Pepperflash Flash Player plugin updated to version 188.8.131.52 – see our review of Flash Player 11.5 for a full list of changes. Pepperflash is a cross-platform API for plugins for web browsers. According to Google, it is still currently an experimental feature of Chrome so it is odd that it is the only integral player… Early reports from some users report audio and video problems as a result of using Pepperflash. If you encounter issues, try installing the standalone Adobe Flash plugin for non-IE browsers and disabling the Pepperflash plugin. See our guide on disabling Flash plugins to resolve crashes.
HTML5 Score – The HTML5 test score increases by 11 to a total of 448 which keeps Chrome in top place amongst all major browsers tested. For comparison:
Opera 12 – 389
Safari 6 – 378
Firefox 16 – 372
IE9 – 138 (continues Microsoft’s traditional failure to comply with web standards – even the new IE10 in Windows 8 only scores 320…)
Note: these scores only indicate how well browsers support the draft HTML5 standard – they don’t necessarily mean that a browser actually performs any better. However, higher scores in the tests indicate that a browser may better cope with (and display) webpages that make heavy use of HTML5 e.g. games.
RAM Usage – Chrome still uses a lot of RAM because it runs each tab as a separate process. This is good for security and stability but bad for performance on systems with limited memory. In my recent review of memory usage in Firefox, Chrome and IE, Chrome came second – behind Firefox but well ahead of IE9.
The changes in Google Chrome 23 are mostly behind the scenes (security fixes and technical changes) but they can increase battery life on laptops/netbooks and they make it easier to manage website permissions for better privacy and security.
Other major browsers already included DNT as an option (mandatory in IE10) so it is good that Google has joined the party.