The latest version of Google’s Chrome browser is out and it arrives with the company’s move to disable Adobe Flash Player by default when visiting web pages. Google warned about this feature last August, stating that using HTML5 by default not only creates a safer web browsing experience but is more power efficient too. The Flash-blocking feature recently appeared in the beta version of Chrome 56 and is now available to the masses in this new stable version.
“Today, more than 90 percent of Flash on the web loads behind the scenes to support things like page analytics. This kind of Flash slows you down,” Google said last August. “HTML5 is much lighter and faster, and publishers are switching over to speed up page loading and save you more battery life.”
Google began addressing Flash-based content in September with the release of Chrome 42. The update locked down some Flash content, requiring Chrome users to click on the Flash object to activate. The move to disable Flash content altogether actually arrived in the final version of Chrome 55 released in December but the feature was only available to one percent of its users.
According to Google, the new HTML5 by default feature will disable all Flash content on a website unless the visitor specifies otherwise, meaning Chrome users can allow the browser to play Flash on sites they trust and visit frequently. Otherwise, Flash content will require the user’s permission to play on sites they are visiting for the first time.
“Flash prompting will only be enabled for sites whose Site Engagement Index (SEI) is below a certain threshold,” Google states. “For Chrome 55, starting in January 2017 prompts will only appear for sites where the user’s SEI is less than one. That threshold will increase to 100 through October 2017, when all Flash sites will require an initial prompt.”
In other words, by October, all websites will require Chrome users to initially give permission to run Flash-based content on their pages. Google previously said that just by pushing Flash-based content into click-to-play mode, Chrome users saw “an immediate positive impact” due to faster page loads and reduced power consumption.
Chrome 56 also now fully supports WebGL 2.0. This is a means for rendering web-based 3D graphics within the browser window using graphics processors located inside PCs and mobile devices instead of their central processor. It’s similar to how DirectX works in desktop gaming in that developers can use the graphics chip to handle most of the work, only WebGL does this within the browser environment. Ultimately, Chrome users will see richer 3D games and other content with WebGL 2.0 than the previous version.
To manually update Chrome, click on the three-dot button to the right of the address bar, and then select “Help > About Google Chrome.” Otherwise, Google Chrome can be downloaded here.