After being delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Google has finally released Chrome 81 with support for WebXR and initial support the Web NFC standard.
The update was initially planned to be much larger but a number of features were dropped from the Chrome 81 release such as a UI redesign of Chrome’s web form elements and the removal of support for the TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 encryption protocols.
The UI redesign didn’t make it in to Chrome 81 because Google’s engineers were not able to put the finishing touches on it in time. However, the new form controls are now scheduled to be released with Chrome 83 which is expected to arrive in mid-May.
Google’s plans to remove the TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 encryption protocols from its browser have been pushed back to Chrome 84. The search giant’s decision to delay removing these protocols is related to the coronavirus outbreak as many critical government healthcare sites still use these protocols to set up their HTTPS connections.
WebNFC and WebXR support
The release of Chrome 81 brings support for the new Web NFC standard to Google’s browser through the new WEB NFC API.
While most modern smartphones already support NFC, before now users had to download a separate app to scan NFC tags in the real-world. The new WEB NFC standard will allow websites to interact with NFC tags without requiring users to have a special app installed on their smartphones.
Google believes that by adding the Web NFC standard to Chrome, it could lead to more NFC tags being used in places such as museums, art galleries and conferences as well as on websites and corporate intranets. As of now, the feature won’t be available to all users but instead will only be available as a field trial. The field trial will run from Chrome 81 to Chrome 83 before the feature goes live for all users in Chrome 84.
Initial WebXR support has also been added to Chrome 81 to allow users to use augmented reality in Google’s browser.