What’s New in Chrome 98?

Google Beta || Photo: Collected

Google Beta || Photo: Collected

Over the holidays, Google has been hard at work preparing the next beta version of its browser, and now, a few days into 2022, the first release of Chrome 98 has just arrived. It starts off the year with a bit of a blast, bringing some improvements to emoji and better PWAs. It's also teasing some features that will come to full fruition later down the line, like enhanced screenshotting tools and a new privacy guide.

New font format for more beautiful emoji

Emoji are all but ubiquitous on the web today, but it's still hard to properly store them as fonts without them taking up significantly more space than text. Google is looking to change that with its new COLRv1 Color Gradient Vector Fonts. The font format enables 2D glyph definitions, supports variations, and can reuse existing contours. It's basically built with the vector-based SVG image file format in mind that saves shapes and forms rather than pixels, but further improves on it.

COLRv1 will allow for smaller file sizes while simultaneously improving the quality, making particularly big emoji look much better compared to the usually used bitmap fonts. You might not be able to see that in the screenshot above due to our website's compression, but be sure to play with the example website on Chrome 98 or higher yourself.

Installed web apps will feel even more native on desktop

Progressive web apps you install on your computer can now display content inside the top app bar, allowing them to show elements like search bars, titles, or navigation buttons right at the top, in the otherwise wasted space. We've previously covered this when it first launched as an experiment in Chrome 93, and now, it's finally coming to Chrome 98 in stable, barring any further delays.

You can test how this looks like by installing this demo website on your desktop or laptop.

HDR improvements for CSS

What started as an experiment in Chrome 94 is going live in Chrome 98. Web developers can now use CSS to poll whether the screen their website is currently displayed on supports HDR content. With these panels increasingly becoming the norm, it's a more than welcome change.

Privacy Guide

Google is preparing a new Privacy Guide, tucked into Chrome’s privacy settings. It will run you through a number of settings you can change to protect your privacy, with Google detailing what exactly each change will bring you. Of course, the company encourages you to share more of your data with it by explaining how that will improve certain aspects of browsing, like faster loading times thanks to pre-loading websites or history sync for cross-platform access to it.

When you activate the corresponding flag (chrome://flags#privacy-review), you can already go through the process and the descriptions Google has created, but right now, none of the changes actually stick.

Built-in screenshot tool for desktop

Chrome 98 lays the foundation for a built-in screenshot-taking and editing tool for the desktop version of the browser, tucked away in the share button in the right of the address bar. Right now, it’s still hidden behind flags and doesn’t really work properly (it crashes when you try to save a screenshot to your computer), but it shows that Google wants to make the concept of screenshots more accessible to the majority of people. I bet that many folks don’t necessarily know how to take screenshots on their computers, so having a button labeled “screenshot” right in their browser might make things easier.

You can read more about the intricacies of the desktop screenshot tool in our dedicated coverage.

Screenshots can be ornamented with emoji

Google has added a flag in Chrome 98 that allows you to add emoji to screenshots taken using Chrome for Android's sharing tool. It was previously already possible to draw and add text, but emoji will give you a whole different level of customization. You could technically also add emoji using the text tool before, and you can still do it that way, but the new implementation makes emoji behave more like resizable, moveable, and rotatable stickers.


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