What’s New in Chrome and ChromeOS 107

Google updates Chrome-like clockwork. Every month you can expect a new version of the browser with new features and changes for all of us to enjoy. In particular, Chrome 107 focuses on changes to Chromebooks, with ChromeOS 107 including a camera feature like Stage Manager and the ability to close the laptop without putting it to sleep.

Chrome 107 New Features

First, let’s take a look at Chrome 107, Google’s latest update for the web browser you’re probably using right now. How-To Geek’s Joe Fedewa peeked under the hood to find out what new features and changes you can expect when you hit the “Update” button. That said, this update was relatively light.

Google’s new CDM is officially here

Chrome 107 is the first version of the browser to include Google’s new CDM (Content Decryption Module). In a nutshell, CDM is what allows DRM-restricted content to be played in a browser. Without CDM, you wouldn’t be able to watch services like Netflix because they couldn’t verify that you have the right to watch their content.

Chrome and Chromium currently use Widevine CDM, but it will soon be deprecated in favor of Google’s new version. Chrome 107 is the start of this rollout, while other Chromium browsers will receive an updated CDM on November 15. By December 6th, the existing Widevine CDM will cease to function; be sure to update your browser until then to continue viewing DRM content on the site.

User-agent reduction

Google continues with its plan to reduce the number of user agents. Reducing the number of user agents aims to reduce the amount of user data in the “user-agent chain,” which typically allows servers and networks to see your application, operating system version, and other identifying information. Trackers may use this information to fingerprint your profiles in order to track your browsing activity.

With Chrome 107, Google entered “phase 5” of this plan. The big plus for us is that this update helps protect our online identities a little better.

ChromeOS 107 New Features

With this update cycle, Google has focused more on Chromebooks, which is exciting for those of us using ChromeOS machines. Thanks to Chrome Unboxed, we have a first look at what’s new:

Camera framing

Any Chromebook user with a relatively new iPad will welcome this change. ChromeOS 107 offers Camera Framing for compatible devices, a feature that uses software to track your head movements during video calls. It’s similar to Apple Center Stage and makes it easy to communicate with people on the go. If your Chromebook supports it, you’ll see a pop-up notification to activate the feature after updating to ChromeOS 107. It will also appear as a quick setting option.

Close the Chromebook without it going to sleep

If you’re the administrator of your Chromebook, you can disable the feature that automatically puts the device to sleep when you close the lid. If you ever need to close your Chromebook for transport, but need to keep certain processes running in the background, this feature is for you.

Upgrade to virtual desktops

With ChromeOS 107, Google is introducing some great improvements to virtual desktops. The first is the ability to merge tables. If some of your virtual desktops feel a bit redundant, merging them is a quick solution to clean things up. Instead of just the “X” you see to close the desktop in overview mode, you’ll now see a merge icon that moves the desktop to the desktop on the left.

Also new is the ability to save tables for later, ideal for times when you want to temporarily clear a table but not lose its contents. A new “Save desktop for later” button in overview mode can save what you’ve been doing for later.

Long press to open secondary keys

Chromebooks will soon have the ability to access secondary keys, such as diacritics and special characters, by long-pressing the corresponding keys. This feature is currently being tested in Chrome 107, but you can enable its flag and try it out now. Type the following into your browser: chrome://flags#enable-cros-diacritics-on-physical-keyboard-longpress and press Enter. Enable the flag, restart the browser, then try long pressing various keys to see what happens.

See privacy indicators

This feature was actually spotted by How-To Geek and is a welcome addition to ChromeOS. Like macOS, ChromeOS will soon display privacy indicators to let you know when an app is using your webcam or microphone. You’ll be able to try it out soon via a flag on the Canary channel, which means you’ll need to download Chrome Canary if you haven’t already.

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