Google Chrome 99 has arrived with a slew of new and improved features. The latest version of the popular Chrome browser is the precursor to the much-anticipated Chrome 100.
Some notable features of Chrome 99 include origin trials, dark mode support for web apps, and a handwriting recognition API. This version also includes several other developer-focused features.
These new features became available in the newest Chrome beta channel release, as of February 3, 2022. This release is available for Android, Chrome OS, Linux, Windows, and macOS.
While we await Chrome 100, here are some notable features of Chrome 99 that are worth checking out.
What’s New and Improved in Chrome 99
As announced in a recent Chromium blog post, the following features are now available or improved in Chrome 99.
1. Handwriting Recognition API
The new Chrome 99 features a Handwriting Recognition API that can recognize and convert handwriting (ink) into text. With this capability, Chrome 99 will convert your handwriting into text in real-time and on your device.
Chrome 99’s Handwriting Recognition API also works offline with no third-party dependencies. It uses “on-line” or near real-time recognition rather than “off-line” methods that use Optical Character Recognition.
Chrome’s Handwriting API works with recognition services already available on most operating systems, across many devices.
2. Window Controls Overlay for Progressive Web Apps
The Window Controls are the buttons to the right and left of the title bar area including the minimize, maximize, and close buttons among others. They also include the title of the application.
In Chrome 99, you can now place custom content in the title bar area and replace the title bar with a small overlay housing the window controls. This makes your Chrome browser look and feel more like an app.
It does this by expanding an app’s client area to cover the whole window from the title bar area to the window controls on both sides.
3. Download Shortcut
Downloaded items in previous versions of Chrome are normally displayed side by side in a bar at the bottom of the browser. This is about to change in Chrome 99.
Like Edge (which is also built on Chromium), Chrome 99 is getting a dedicated download shortcut icon. It will appear whenever you’re downloading content and disappear when the download is completed.
This feature is still in development and will roll out to the stable build once finished. Once rolled out, it may also allow you to pin the download Shortcut to the upper toolbar.
4. Programmatic Pickers
Chrome 99 has a feature that lets web pages open a browser picker for input elements like date, color, and data list without relying on custom widgets and CSS hacks.
This could help improve web app interfaces by letting developers configure the browser picker to work with users’ devices.
You can test this new feature via this Glitch demo site where you can experiment with different date pickers including custom date pickers that you can upload and test. To preview, simply click on the Show picker drop-down.
5. Origin Trials
With Chrome 99, you can now easily enroll in Chrome’s Origin Trials program. It allows you to try out new features and provide feedback on usability, practicability, and effectiveness to the web standards community.
Dark mode support for web apps is one of the trials available that you can try out if you sign up for the Origin Trials program. It allows web apps to specify and use any color for dark mode.
If you’re a developer and want to join the program, you can easily register for any of the origin trials available in Chrome via the Chrome Origin Trials dashboard.
Chrome 99 Has More to Offer
On its part, Chrome 99 has some interesting new features, but it appears as though it is geared more towards developers.
Other new features in Chrome 99 include support for infinity, -infinity, and NaN in CSS calc (), CSS Color Adjust, new Canvas 2D features, and unprefixed text-emphasis properties, among others.
Chrome now releases new updates every four weeks. However, if you want to try other browsers, you can check out some powerful Chrome alternatives that we recommend.
We’re taking a look at Vivaldi, Opera, and Brave to work out which browser the best alternative to Chrome.
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