First Chrome version with Manifest V3 to land in Canary this summer

Will ad blockers still work in Chrome? We'll see starting late July, early August.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor

Chrome users will be able to test the first version of the Chrome browser that is said to "cripple ad blockers" starting this summer.

The first version of Chrome that will feature revamped Extensions API functions is expected to be ready for public testing as a Chrome Canary version "at the end of July or beginning of August," according to Simeon Vincent, an Extensions Developer Advocate for the Chromium Project.

However, please note that this version is intended as a "Developer Preview." Some ad blockers will not work because they are still running on top of deprecated Chrome code.

This version is intended as a test base for developers so they can prepare their extensions for the upcoming changes in the Chrome extensions code, which currently is scheduled to arrive in the main Chrome stable release at the start of 2020, barring any problems.

Extension developers will have around six months to migrate from the old Chrome extensions codebase to the new ones.

The Manifest V3 drama -- a short history

All of this drama about "Google crippling ad blockers" started back in October 2018, when Google announced major changes to the Chrome extensions ecosystem.

Plagued by a rise in the number of malicious extensions, Google announced new rules for the extensions review process, but also major changes to Chrome's extensions codebase.

Google grouped the changes in the Chrome codebase in a new set of rules called Manifest V3, which developers had to follow when coding new extensions or updating old ones to work with Chrome's future codebase.

All of the Manifest V3 changes were detailed in a 19-page "design document" that the browser maker published last year.

While initially there was little discussion about the Manifest V3 changes, in January this year, the maintainers of several ad blocker extensions raised an issue with the deprecation of a specific API function and the addition of a new one that was far inferior.

They said this new API function would impact the ability of ad blockers, antivirus products, parental control enforcement, and various privacy-enhancing extensions to work properly.

Extension developers and users complained; Google backtracked on some changes; extension devs and users complained again; and Google backtracked again.

During all this recent drama, Google has always said the primary reason for Manifest V3 has been protecting user privacy and security, and never crippling ad blockers.

Until now, the browser maker has been understanding in regards to the criticism it received about the upcoming changes and has given ground in some areas -- such as raising a maximum "rules" limit from 30,000 to 150,000 to accommodate ad blockers, which Vincent also confirmed last week.

Nonetheless, some extension developers still have gripes about Manifest V3 and don't think their extensions will ever be the same again.

However, starting July/August, users will be able to test how their favorite extensions behave in Chrome Canary and prepare to move to other browsers like Firefox if they find their web experience has been downgraded by Chrome's new extensions system.

For what's it worth, Opera, Brave, and Vivaldi have said they plan to ignore Chrome's anti-ad-blocker changes, despite the shared Chromium codebase.

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