Toolbars are the bane of many who browse the web, particularly when they’re unwanted and stealthily applied to one’s browser. Once in place, toolbars can slow things down, not to mention appearing messy and taking up valuable screen real estate. The Chrome Web Store has never been a friendly place for toolbars, but that hasn’t stopped them entirely from cropping up, and as a result Google has announced an upcoming policy change to further stymie them.
Starting in June 2014, all existing extensions will need to, says Google, “have a single purpose that is narrow and easy-to-understand.” This date only applies to existing extensions, however, with all new extensions needing to meet the requirement immediately. This means extensions that package several components into a single toolbar, for example, would need to be split up into several individual extensions.
Says Google, the purpose of Chrome has always been a fast and simple user experience, both of which are contradicted by toolbars. These bothersome extensions tend to detract from the Web page itself, and from the beginning extensions were to only have a single surface — that is, a single user interface that is visible. Chrome was never made with support for toolbars in mind.
While the Chrome Web Store has in part helped some users avoid these toolbars via the inclusion of reviews that could reflect what the extension was about, this wasn’t always the case. Sideloaded extensions can be of particular issue in this case. Such is the reason for the updated policy, which Google acknowledges will require “significant changes” for some extensions. The June deadline is a grace period giving developers time to make this happen.