Chrome 81 Expands Support for Augmented Reality and NFC

The latest version of Google's Chrome browser packs in a bevy of new features for developers and users alike. The two big additions are support for augmented reality and hit-testing thanks to new APIs, as well as web NFC for mobile. As always, there are lots of smaller changes to the browser. Let's dig in and go over each. 

Chrome 81 expands support for a couple of immersive augmented reality features for the web. Google updated the WebXR Device API to support augmented reality. This API was first introduced in Chrome 79, though it was limited to virtual reality. Google says developers won't have to learn much to use the WebXR Device API to create AR experiences. It explains that the specification was created specifically to cater to a wide range of experiences. The application flow is the same whether developers are aiming for a high or low degree of augmentation or virtualization. The differences, says Google, are achieved by selecting different properties during object creation. 

Chrome 81 also now includes support for the WebXR Hit Test API. Developers can use this API to place objects in real-world views. Let's say your site sells furniture and you want to allow potential customers to place a virtual couch in their living room, this is the API you need. The API captures the location of a hit test as well as the orientation of the detection point. A walkthrough on how to use these APIs is available here

Web NFC gives web sites the ability to read NFC tags. As Google points out, this opens up a huge new world of use cases. For example, people could tap their phones on museum exhibits to open certain web pages about the painting or sculpture or artifact in front of them. Web NFC could also be used for inventory management or adding more detailed information to a conference badge. Taking advantage of this feature is easy thanks to simple reading and writing operations. Google explains that developers will need to construct and interpret payloads, but the learning curve isn't too steep. You can glean the basics here

The last major feature added to Chrome 81 is origin trials. These allow developers to test new browser features and provide feedback to the web standards community concerning issues such as usability and effectiveness.  

You can learn more about Chrome 81 in Google's blog post.

Be sure to read the next Browsers article: Coronavirus Disrupts Google Chrome Development