2019 has been a great year for Google Chrome. Despite hiccups where an experimental update broke it temporarily, it remains the world's most popular browser, and is currently rendering websites to between 48% and 64% of web users (depending on who counts).
Google is not resting on its laurels, and has many new features in those. works until 2020. Here are the ones you should be looking at, including the ones we want to wait to try, and a few that might turn out to be a step in the wrong direction.
Dark mode for mobile
One of the features we're most looking forward to in 2020 is dark mode for Chrome on mobile. If you have an Android phone or tablet, you can try the experimental version of dark mode right now by typing chrome://flags in the address bar and enabling the option 'Android web content dark mode' and 'Android chrome interface dark mode'. Once this is done, restart your browser, open the Settings menu and select the new 'Dark' option under 'themes'. This is only an experiment, however, and the final version may look very different.
Google is still ironing out some bugs with how the browser looks and renders pages in dark mode, but we expect an Android version to be ready for public release in the first quarter of 2020, with a firmware release shortly after.
Another feature that is available via chrome://flags is parallel downloading. This effectively splits the files into multiple parts that are downloaded at the same time. This is the same technique that offline download managers use to help you grab files faster, and would be a nice addition to Chrome, especially now that fiber broadband is becoming more common. Stay tuned for his arrival in 2020.
Exchange page via QR codes
This feature is on its way, but it's not exactly what we're looking forward to. Canarian Chrome users have recently been able to share web pages with a friend via QR codes. The code is generated on one device and can be scanned using the camera on another.
It's not a completely new way to share sites (Opera has suggested the same for kids), and we're not big fans of QR codes. You need to download a special app to scan them, and there is no way to tell where they will lead before doing so. The potential for phishing is huge. We would prefer to share sites with people we trust through the messaging app.
New Tab Switch
Nowadays, when you want to change tabs in Chrome browser on your phone or tablet, you click on the button to open Tab Switcher and choose from a set of large "maps" showing all the pages you open. It's simple and effective, but that could change everything in 2020 with the introduction of the New Tab Switcher, which adds many new options to a single screen.
A new switch tab is in development and Canary builds Chrome, and while that may change before it becomes part of the release, it looks pretty polished. In addition to small previews of all your open tabs, it features (take a deep breath) the Google logo front and center, Incognito Switch Mode, a set of links for recently visited sites, a search bar, menu options, and a button to create a new tab. Improvement? We are not so sure.
Name-calling and shaming slow sites
This is a feature suggested by a group of Chrome developers who claim that "you can do better on the web" when it comes to user experience. The idea is that sites that load slowly, especially will be indicated in some way to warm users, that they will wait for a while and prefer to look elsewhere for content. This alert can be in the form of a splash screen, information that appears in the context menu when you right-click, or a little green progress bar to show that the place is incredibly fast.
There is no guarantee that such labels will appear in 2020, but Google is putting a lot of effort into pushing its best practice guidelines for web developers, so we wouldn't be surprised to see something along these lines in the near future.
Built-in password manager
This feature is purely speculative, but we would like to see. At the end of 2019, Google introduced a new tool that will alert you if any of your online accounts have been exposed in a recent data breach. This is a handy feature, and bears a strong resemblance to Firefox's monitor.
We wouldn't be surprised if Google decides to follow in Mozilla's footsteps and also release their own password manager in 2020, helping to keep your accounts safe from phishing and avoid the temptation to reuse passwords for several different services. Perhaps it could even be combined with Google Drive, allowing you to move important files from Drive to secure encrypted storage along with your passwords.