Chrome 61 is now headed your way: Fixes 22 flaws, connects USB science kit to web

Chrome 61 for Windows, Mac, and Linux has started rolling out, with Android following in the next few weeks.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Chrome 61 is the first version of Google's browser to support WebUSB, an API spec allowing web apps to link to USB devices beyond typical USB hardware.

Image: iStock

Google has released Chrome 61 for the desktop, bringing fixes for a handful of high-severity security issues and a new API for securely connecting atypical USB devices to the web, such as computerized science equipment and industrial USB peripherals.

Chrome 61 is the first version of Google's browser to support WebUSB, an API specification developed by two Google engineers to allow web apps to communicate with a range of USB devices beyond typical USB hardware, such as mice, printers and keyboards, which are already supported.

Google believes WebUSB will be a useful for educational purposes. The idea is to help science students who use, say, an Arduino, to interface with a web application via the browser without needing to install drivers from the web, which Google argues may expose them to security vulnerabilities.

If other major browsers support the spec, it should also be easier for manufacturers to build cross-platform JavaScript SDKs for their devices. However, according to Google none has indicated plans to support it yet.

The API allows web apps to communicate with these non-standard USB peripherals once the users gives their consent.

Chrome 61 also brings across Chrome on Android's Payment Request API, which is meant to make it easier for sites to offer a fast checkout.

Finally, Chrome 61 introduces native support for JavaScript modules.

"This release adds native support for JavaScript modules via the new <script type=module> element. Native support means the browser can fetch granular dependencies in parallel, taking advantage of caching, avoiding duplications across the page, and ensuring the script executes in the correct order, all without a build step," Google explains.

Google has paid researchers of $23,500 for 10 bugs fixed in Chrome 61, which fixes a total of 22 security issues. Google lists six high-severity issues, three medium-severity issues, and one low-security bug.

As well as rolling out to Windows, Mac, and Linux users now, Google says Chrome 61 for Android has been released and will be available on Google Play over the next few weeks.

On top of performance and stability fixes, Google says Chrome 61 for Android gives Translate pages a more compact and intuitive toolbar, and brings an improved image picker.

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