Google Chrome 88 released with no Flash support, bringing an end to an era

Besides removing Flash, Google has also removed support for FTP links (ftp://) as well.

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Google has released Chrome 88 today, permanently removing support for Adobe Flash Player and bringing an end to an internet era.

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Flash reached its official end of life (EoL) on December 31, 2020, when Adobe officially stopped supporting the software. On January 12, Adobe also began blocking content from playing inside Flash, as part of its final nail in the coffin.

Google is not alone in its move to remove Flash. The decision was made together with Adobe and other browser makers such as Apple, Mozilla, and Microsoft, in 2017. Apple and Mozilla have also stopped supporting Flash, and Microsoft is scheduled to end support later this month.

Currently, according to web technology survey site W3Techs, only 2.2% of today's websites use Flash code, a number that has plummeted from a 28.5% figure recorded at the start of 2011.

Speaking at a conference in February 2018, Parisa Tabriz, Director of Engineering at Google, said the percentage of daily Chrome users who've loaded at least one page containing Flash content per day went down from around 80% in 2014 to under 8% in early 2018, a number that has most likely continued plummet since.

FTP support is also gone

But today's Chrome 88 release also comes with other features, deprecations, bug fixes, and security patches. One of the most important changes is the removal of support for accessing FTP links (ftp://) inside Chrome, a process that started back in Chrome 86:

  • Chrome 86 - FTP is still enabled by default for most users but turned off for pre-release channels (Canary and Beta) and will be experimentally turned off for one percent of stable users. In this version, you can re-enable it from the command line using either the --enable-ftp command line flag or the --enable-features=FtpProtocol flag.
  • Chrome 87 - FTP support will be disabled by default for fifty percent of users but can be enabled using the flags listed above.
  • Chrome 88 - FTP support will be disabled.

Chrome now blocks mixed, insecure downloads

In Chrome 88, Google has also finished a plan it began last year. With today's release, Chrome now blocks certain HTTP file downloads.

Cases where Chrome will stop downloads include when a user is accessing a web page that starts with HTTPS, but the file is downloaded from an URL starting with HTTP. Chrome deems these cases as "mixed" and "insecure" downloads, and starting with Chrome 88 will block them completely for the users' protection.

chrome-mixed-downloads-block.png

Image: ZDNet

Other changes

On top of this, Chrome 88 has also removed support for the old DTLS 1.0 protocol, used inside Chrome as part of its WebRTC support.

Furthermore, Chrome 88 will also include an origin trial for detecting idle state. When enabled by the user, the origin trial will allow websites to request the ability to query if users are idle on a browser, allowing messaging apps to direct notifications to the best device.

For some Chrome 88 users, Google will also test a new user interface for the permission drop-down panel, the UI through which websites request permissions to access various user systems, such as the microphone, file system, and others.

Users will also be able to search through all open tabs in Chrome 88.

In addition, Chrome 88 also drops support for OS X 10.10 (OS X Yosemite). Going forward, Chrome on Mac will require OS X 10.11 or later.

Chrome 88 will also block tab-nabbing attacks, as previously reported here by ZDNet, and the browser will also heavily throttle JavaScript timer operations in background tabs to improve performance and reduce CPU and RAM use.

Another major change is that Chrome 88 now also officially supports extensions built with Manifest v3 extension rules. Extensions built on this new controversial system can now also be uploaded to the Chrome Web Store.

And last but not least, single words entered in the URL bar will not be treated as intranet locations by default in enterprise versions of Chrome 88.

But we only touched on the major Chrome 88 features. Users who'd like to learn more about the other features added or removed in this new Chrome release can check out the following links for more information:

  • Chrome security updates are detailed here.
  • Chromium open-source browser changes are detailed here.
  • Chrome developer API deprecations and feature removals are listed here.
  • Chrome for Android updates are detailed here.
  • Chrome for iOS updates are detailed here.
  • Changes to Chrome V8 JavaScript engine are available here.
  • Changes to Chrome's DevTools are listed here.