Google Confirms Ad-Blocking Feature Coming to Chrome in Early 2018

Google will introduce an ad-blocking feature in both its mobile and desktop Chrome web browsers early next year, according to the company. Thursday's announcement confirms rumors back in April that the tech giant was seriously considering the feature for Chrome, and provided more details on Google's motives behind the move.

In a blog post, Sridhar Ramaswamy, Senior VP of Ads and Commerce, said Google wanted to "build a better web for everyone" by eradicating intrusive ads online without removing all adds entirely, since so many sites rely on ads as their source of revenue.
The vast majority of online content creators fund their work with advertising. That means they want the ads that run on their sites to be compelling, useful and engaging--ones that people actually want to see and interact with. But the reality is, it’s far too common that people encounter annoying, intrusive ads on the web--like the kind that blare music unexpectedly, or force you to wait 10 seconds before you can see the content on the page. These frustrating experiences can lead some people to block all ads--taking a big toll on the content creators, journalists, web developers and videographers who depend on ads to fund their content creation.
Google said efforts to find a solution to the problem involved several steps, one of which is the ad blocking software, or "ad filter". Chrome's ad filter won't block all ads, but only those that are classified as intrusive or annoying. To help with its classifications, Google said it had joined the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group dedicated to improving online ads, and would be using the coalition's guidance to determine which ones should be blocked.

According to the coalition's Better Ads Standards, ad formats like pop-ups, auto-playing ads with audio, and ads with countdown timers fall under "a threshold of consumer acceptability", so these will be blocked by Chrome. Even ads "owned or served by Google" will be blocked on pages that don't meet Chrome's guidelines, said the company.

Google also said it planned to support the guidance by helping publishers understand how the standards apply to their own websites. To that end, it has published an Ad Experience Report, which provides examples of annoying ad experiences, and a best practices guide offering ways to fix the issues.

In addition, Google will introduce an option for website visitors to pay sites that they are blocking ads on, called Funding Choices. Google has already been testing a similar feature for some time, but it hopes the updated model will be supported by more publishers when it goes live.

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Google Could Include Ad-Blocker in Future Versions of Chrome Browser

Google is planning to introduce an ad-blocking feature in both the mobile and desktop versions of its Chrome web browser, according to sources who spoke to The Wall Street Journal.

The feature could be turned on by default within Chrome and would be designed to filter out certain online ad types that result in poor user experiences on the web, as defined by industry group the Coalition for Better Ads.

According to the coalition's standards, ad formats like pop-ups, auto-playing ads with audio, and ads with countdown timers fall under "a threshold of consumer acceptability" and could therefore be targets of any blocker.

Google could announce the feature within weeks, according to the paper's sources, but it is still working out specific details and could still decide to reverse course and can the feature. One possible implementation of the filter includes blocking all advertising on a website if it hosts just one offending ad, ensuring a set standard is kept by website owners. Another option is to target specific ads.

For a company that generated over $60 billion in revenue from online advertising in 2016, the feature would seem a surprise move. However Google appears to be reacting against the growth of third-party blocking tools – some of which charge fees to let ads pass through their filters – by considering offering its own solution, which would let it control which ads pass through filters.

In the U.S., Chrome commands nearly half of the browser market across all platforms, according to online analytics provider StatCounter.

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YouTube Dark Mode Surfaces in Latest Desktop Chrome Browser Update

Google appears to be testing a Dark Mode feature for YouTube in the latest version of its Chrome 57 desktop browser.

The built-in mode was discovered on Thursday and shared in a Reddit post, and while the setting doesn't appear by default, a quick command in the developer console is all that's required to enable it.

YouTube Dark Mode in Chrome with black theme enabled

Follow these steps to enable the YouTube dark mode in Chrome on Mac. Make sure you're signed in to YouTube before performing the steps.

  1. Press the keyboard combination shortcut Option + Command + I to open the developer tools sidebar.

  2. Click the Console tab.

  3. Paste document.cookie="VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE=fPQ4jCL6EiE" into the console and press enter.

  4. Close the developer tools sidebar and refresh the YouTube page.

  5. Click your YouTube profile picture, select Dark Mode from the dropdown, and toggle the switch to enable the mode.

Google Chrome is available to download for free on the App Store. [Direct Link]

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Chrome Browser Gains ‘Scroll Anchoring’ to Prevent Annoying Web Page Jumps

Google yesterday announced a new feature in the latest update to its Chrome browser that aims to make the progressive loading of web pages less jumpy and annoying.

The idea behind progressive loading is to allow users to begin consuming web content immediately before the page has fully loaded, but the offscreen loading of pictures and so on can cause unexpected page jumps and push down what's already on screen, making for a frustrating experience, especially on mobile devices. Google's answer to this problem is something called Scroll Anchoring.
Similar to other features designed to protect our users from bad experiences, starting in version 56 Chrome prevents these unexpected page jumps with a new feature called scroll anchoring. This feature works by locking the scroll position on an on-screen element to keep our users in the same spot even as offscreen content continues to load.

Google claims scroll anchoring is already preventing about three page jumps per page-view, but says it understands there might be some content for which scroll anchoring is either unwanted or misbehaving. For this reason, the feature ships alongside a CSS property to override it.

While the focus of this feature is on mobile, scroll anchoring is actually also on by default on Chrome for Mac. Meanwhile, Google is encouraging web developers to participate in a community group to discuss the feature's functionality, offer feedback, and learn how to design websites or services "with a no-reflow mindset".

Google Chrome is available to download for free on the App Store. [Direct Link]

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Chrome 57 Reduces Desktop Power Consumption By Throttling Background Tabs

Version 57 of the desktop Chrome web browser includes a new CPU throttling feature that Google says will lead to 25 percent fewer busy background tabs and help reduce overall power consumption.

Charges that Chrome is a battery hog have long dogged Google's browser, leading the company to make efficient power usage a key pillar in its long-term development strategy for the software. Throttling background tabs by limiting Javascript timers is the latest attempt by Google to improve the browser's reputation.


Javascript timers are often used by news sites and social media networks to update web page content in tabs, which uses up valuable CPU cycles. From version 57 of the browser, Chrome will delay timers in individual background tabs if their power usage oversteps the mark. Tabs that play audio or use real-time connections won't be affected, however.
Chrome has focused on improving the user experience by throttling tab performance for many years. Like many browsers, Chrome has limited timers in the background to only run once per second. Via the new throttling policy, Chrome 57 will delay timers to limit average CPU load to 1% of a core if an application uses too much CPU in background. Tabs playing audio or maintaining real-time connections like WebSockets or WebRTC won’t be affected.
According to Google, the new throttling mechanism leads to fewer busy background tabs, which typically consume a third of Chrome's power usage on desktop computers. In the long term, Google aims to fully suspend timers in background tabs and instead rely on new APIs to do the work instead.

Chrome 57 is available to download for Mac users now. Existing users can update by selecting Chrome -> Preferences via the menu bar and clicking the About section. Users downloading Chrome for the first time will automatically receive the updated version from the Chrome download page. An update for the iOS browser app has also been released with a new Read Later option.

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Latest Chrome Canary Build Includes Support for MacBook Pro Touch Bar

The newest build (58.0.3020.0) of Chrome Canary, Google's experimental browser, includes support for the Touch Bar built into the 2016 MacBook Pro, indicating Touch Bar support will soon be added to the Chrome browser.

On the Touch Bar, the current Chrome Canary build offers a search/URL bar, forward and back buttons, a refresh/stop option, a button for opening a new tab, and a button for adding a new bookmark.


It's much a simpler implementation than Touch Bar support in Safari, which includes preview tabs for quickly switching between windows. There are also no controls available for video or music playback in the browser.

Features are tested in Canary before being added release builds of the Google Chrome browser, so Touch Bar support is expected in Chrome 58, set to be released during the week of April 25th.

Those who want to give Touch Bar support a try ahead of the release of Chrome 58 can download Chrome Canary from Google.

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Google Makes Chrome Browser for iOS Open Source

Google_Chrome_Material_Icon-450x450Google today announced that the code for Chrome for iOS is being added to its Chromium project and will be available through the company's open-source repository going forward.

According to Google, Chrome for iOS was previously kept separate from the rest of the Chromium project because of the "additional complexity" required for the platform, such as the need for the browser to be built using the WebKit rendering engine.

Google says the company's engineers have spent "a lot of time" over the last few years tweaking the Chrome for iOS code needed to upstream into Chromium, a process that was recently completed.
Today, that upstreaming is complete, and developers can compile the iOS version of Chromium like they can for other versions of Chromium. Development speed is also faster now that all of the tests for Chrome for iOS are available to the entire Chromium community and automatically run any time that code is checked in.
Designed as an alternative to Safari, Chrome for iOS is available for free to all users from the iOS App Store. [Direct Link]

Chrome users won't notice any obvious changes to the browser, but the shift to open source will make it easier for Google to release new versions of Chrome for iOS.

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Chrome 56 Offers Faster Reloads, Better Security, Lower Power Usage, and More

Google_Chrome_Material_Icon-450x450Version 56 of Google Chrome browser started rolling out to Macs today, bringing with it several new security enhancements, lower power consumption, and a performance boost.

To begin with, Chrome now presents a clearer warning to users when a website requests password or credit card information over a non-HTTPS, unsecure connection. Chrome 56 is also the first version to make HTML5 the default standard for all users, with Flash content automatically blocked by the browser.

Support for the HTTPS-secure Web Bluetooth API has also been included, allowing websites to connect to Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices like printers and lightbulbs for a more interactive online experience. Chrome 56 also brings 51 additional security fixes to the browser.

According to a Google blog post, in the latest version of Chrome, changes to page reload behavior now produce reloads that are 28 percent faster and result in 60 percent less validation requests. The new behavior is said to maximize the reuse of cached resources which results in lower latency, power consumption, and data usage.

In addition, Chrome 56 brings built-in FLAC support for the first time, meaning users of the (non-iTunes compatible) audio format can listen to tracks from within the browser.

Lastly, in an attempt to deal with resource hogging Chrome tabs, Google has introduced a new Browser Timer feature that automatically throttles background pages overstepping their allotted runtime allowance, provided they aren't playing media.

Chrome 56 is available to download for Mac users now. Existing users can update by selecting Chrome -> Preferences via the menu bar and clicking the About section. Users downloading Chrome for the first time will automatically receive the updated version from the Chrome download page. An update for the iOS browser app is expected soon.

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Google Chrome Browser 55 Fixes Security Holes and Defaults to HTML5

Google_Chrome_Material_Icon-450x450
Google this week began rolling out the latest update to its desktop Chrome web browser ahead of schedule, with Chrome 55 fixing multiple security vulnerabilities and defaulting to HTML5 on the majority of websites.

Google Chrome has been phasing out Flash support since September, when version 53 of the browser started blocking Flash-based page analytics and background elements. Version 54 brought a YouTube code rewrite that forced YouTube Flash players to switch to HTML5.

Chrome 55 brings the most visible move away from Flash by defaulting to HTML5 across the board. Users are now prompted to enable Flash when they visit sites that still use it, exempting 10 of the most popular sites on the web, including Facebook and Amazon.

Chrome 55.0.2883.75 for Mac contains a number of other fixes and improvements, including 26 patches identified by external researchers as part of Google's bug bounty program, and another 10 security fixes implemented by Google itself. The addition of CSS automatic hyphenation means Chrome can now hyphenate words when line-wrapping, which improves the visual appearance of text blocks.

Chrome 55 should be available to download for most Mac users now. Existing users can update by selecting Chrome -> Preferences via the menu bar and clicking the About section. Users downloading Chrome for the first time will automatically receive the updated version from the Chrome download page. An update for the iOS browser app is expected soon.

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