Chrome 79 Adds WebXR Device API and New Security Protections

Google launched Chrome 79 for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, and Windows this week. The latest browser from Google packs in tons of updates, including support for the WebXR Device API, as well as a password checkup, real-time phishing protection, and, of course, security patches. Here's the run down on what's what. 

The WebXR Device API is all about bringing virtual reality to the web, something that Google has been pushing for several years. In simplest terms, the WebXR Device API allows developers to create virtual reality experiences on the web for smartphones and headsets. For now, this is limited to virtual reality, or wholly computer-generated worlds. Support for augmented reality, which blends computer-generated content with the real world, will come later. Some of the content types Google believes this API will support include games, 360-degree videos, 2D/3D video, real estate, in-home sampling, art, and "something cool nobody's thought of yet." 

Chrome won't be the only browser to support the WebXR Device API. Google says Firefox Reality, Oculus Browser, Edge, and Magic Leap's Helio browser, among others, will eventually bake the API into their respective code. It's a standard API developed in part by W3C

Of course, there's a whole lot more inside Chrome 79.

With Chrome 79, the browser will warn people if their username or password has been compromised in a known data breach from an app or web site. Chrome will immediately suggest to the user that they change the password anywhere it might be used. Though the feature has been an option in Chrome since earlier this year, Chrome 79 brings it to the fore where it is a proactive tool. Google says it is rolling this tool out gradually. 

Next up, phishing protection in real-time. Google says its Safe Browsing feature keeps constant vigil over unsafe sites and continually updates webmasters and other browser developers to make the entire web more secure. As it functions today, the list of known bad actors refreshes across the web every 30 minutes. Sadly, that's a large enough window that some phishing sites can sneak through. In Chrome 79, the browser will check sites in real-time as people type in the URL. If it detects a dangerous site, it will warn the user. Google believes this will help, but users must turn it on manually. 

Last, but not least, Chrome 79 patches an extensive list of security holes. Some 51 vulnerabilities have been sealed up, many of which were unearthed by outside researchers. Google listed those that contributed to finding the issues along with the associated monetary reward, which ranged from $500 to $20,000. 

Be sure to read the next Browsers article: Chrome 81 Expands Support for Augmented Reality and NFC