For the most part, Chrome 69 is a significant release, bringing in a new Material Design, a smarter search bar, and more. But thanks to a rather unannounced feature, it has turned into quite a mess. Contrary to its stated goal, the new sign-in consistency only brought more confusion and the usual monopolistic accusations. Now Google is telling Chrome users to keep calm and browse on because Chrome 70 will address, not fix, those concerns.
The new feature sounded simple enough. When you logged into any Google service using a Chrome browser, you would also be signed into that Chrome browser using that same Google account. Log out of either the Chrome browser or the Google service and you’d be signed out of the other automatically. Google’s aim was to reduce the confusion at having two separate sign-ins and to reduce the risk of making a (tracked) Google search using your account while logged into the Chrome account of another.
Except that’s not what long time Chrome users have been accustomed to. It has only made it more confusing and, considering it wasn’t a widely publicized change, potentially more problematic. At the most extreme, some have accused Google of turning Chrome browser into simply a gateway for Google services and tricking users into unwittingly sharing their browsing history with Google even if they only logged into Gmail.
Google clarifies that the new Chrome sign-in feature doesn’t automatically turn Chrome sync on, which means browsing history, cookies, passwords, and whatnot are not suddenly being tracked. Users have to explicitly turn tat on if they want to. And starting Chrome 70, users will have the option to disable that link. The UI will also be made to reflect the confusing duality of sign-ins and syncing.
Google is obviously not backing down from its stance but it could have spared itself some headache if it had been more upfront about the feature. Then again, it would still have been criticized for it, as critics are wont to do regardless.