Google released Google Chrome 57 beta mere days after Chrome 56 was released on the stable channel. Here’s a run-down of what to expect, and where you can get an early preview copy without putting yourself through the risk of a highly unstable version such as an alpha or dev build.
Of course, you’ll still see a lot of glitches and crashes with this current beta, but it should be relatively easy to jump back to a stable build (Chrome 56) if things go awry.
The full version is scheduled for release during the week of March 14, 2017, per the Chromium Development Calendar. It’s not set in stone, but it should make its appearance on the stable channel sometime then.
So what’s new in Chrome 57? Lots!
The first major change is CSS Grid, which allows web designers to create websites using a grid layout.
Another big change is media orientation. With Chrome 57, users will be able to control the orientation of media such as video without necessarily having to change the orientation of the mobile device itself.
The third new feature is the ability to customize your notification icons. Media Session API support means that these notifications – as well as media playlists – can be identified to the user’s liking.
Two other features give us a clue to the future of Google Chrome, and we touched on the subject of the hybrid operating system called Andromeda, which is a project that Google is reportedly working on to bring Android and Chrome OS together to create a cross-device OS.
One of the other approaches Google seems to be taking is Progressive Web Apps, and we’re seeing that evolution continue with Google Chrome 57 beta. We’ve written about Progressive Web Apps in detail in an earlier article, which you can review here:
In short, a PWA is a web app that increasingly behaves like a native app the more you use it – push notifications, shortcuts and faster loading…all of these elements are progressively introduced into the experience, hence the name.
With PWAs, what could potentially happen is that app stores could become obsolete. Just imagine a world where there are no more mobile apps (hard to do that while App Store and Play Store dominate the mobile scene, I know!), and every app in the world can be accessed through our browser no matter what device you’re using.
How does this tie in with Andromeda? Our take is that these are two independent projects that Google is working on, but with essentially the same purpose – to blur the line between desktop and mobile formats. While Andromeda appears to be an attempt to bring Android apps into Chrome OS and blur the line that way, the PWA and WebAssembly approach involves creating a new genre of apps and making Chrome the best possibly browser to run these apps on.
Admittedly, these assumptions are hard to validate until Google actually announces something big, but we have a feeling that could come sooner rather than later.
Want to try Google Chrome 57 beta? Use these links to download it for Mac, Windows, Linux and iOS.
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