Chrome 84 silences intrusive notifications, makes web apps better

Google has just pushed version 84 of Chrome to the public and while its changelog might be a bit unexciting, it's actually a larger release than it seems. For one, it has the potential to break some sites, at least the ones that misbehave and do things behind your back. But it also has the potential to make the web app experience on mobile even more seamless, taking PWAs closer to becoming on par with their native app counterparts.

Google delayed the enforcement of its SameSite Cookies policy to give site owners more time to get things in order during the pandemic. Chrome version 84 is slowly rolling out that delayed enforcement, however, and sites that still haven't fixed their cookies yet might find themselves losing Chrome users bit by bit. Of course, the presumption here is that those using cross-site tracking cookies might be up to no good by default.

Version 84 also has bad news for sites that love to bombard users with notifications asking for this or that permission. As reported back in January, these will now be silenced, though users still have control if they want to be pestered, of course. Just in case they're worried about not receiving important ones.

Web apps, both conventional and progressive, are getting quite a lot of features in this release. There's the support for app icon shortcuts that Google and Microsoft worked on, making progressive web app icons behave like native Android ones. There's also support for the Web OTP API so that you won't have to manually type in the OTP you received via SMS.

But wait, there's more! Web pages can also request that the screen stay on, usually on mobile, so it suddenly won't turn off while you're in the middle of following a recipe and your hands are too dirty to unlock the phone. On desktops, Chrome will also start warning users about downloading EXE and APK files over HTTP when they're on a more secure HTTPS page. All these and more are available from Chrome version 84, rolling out to Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android now.