Google Chrome version 93 has just launched for both desktop and Android. These monthly updates can bring a mixed bag of new features, tweaks, and changes for developers, but version 93 has several enhancements worth knowing about for users too, including enhancements to Chrome Web Apps on desktop, changes to the Android app’s interface, helpful cross-device security options, and more.
We’ll go over all the new features below, but if you want to grab the Chrome 93 update right now, here’s how (the same steps work on Android and desktop):
- Click or tap the three-dot menu in the upper-right of the browser window.
- Go to Settings > About Google Chrome to see if the update is ready to download.
- Run the update if it’s ready, then close and reboot the browser.
You can also download the latest version from the Google Chrome download page. Now, on to what’s new…
Desktop: Web apps can now launch from URL links and support multi-screen devices.
Chrome 93 has two new Web App features for desktop users.
First, opening external web apps via URL links is now seamless. With this feature turned on, clicking a link in Chrome will open the web app if you have it installed on your device.
For example, if you installed the YouTube PWA with Chrome, clicking a YouTube hyperlink will open the video in the PWA instead of a new Chrome tab. This won’t work for every web app, since it requires the developers to implement the capability themselves, but it will be a helpful change for the apps that support it. It’s also disabled by default and must be turned on by changing some settings in Chrome’s experimental flags menu:
- Open Chrome and head to chrome://flags/#enable-desktop-pwas-url-handling
- Select “Enabled” from the drop-down menu.
- Restart Chrome when prompted.
The other new feature is multi-screen and multi-window support for web apps. This feature also requires developer implementation as well, but Google predicts it would be helpful for many types of web apps, including:
- Multi-window graphics editors à la Gimp can place various editing tools in accurately positioned windows.
- Virtual trading desks can show market trends in multiple windows any of which can be viewed in fullscreen mode.
- Slideshow apps can show speaker notes on the internal primary screen and the presentation on an external projector.
These apps can now open multiple windows simultaneously across one display, or multiple displays, which should be a marked improvement for multi-display users.
Cross-device Two-Factor SMS syncing
As of version 93, Chrome will now automatically recognise and sync SMS login codes for two-factor authentication if you’re signed in with your Google Account on multiple devices — for the websites that support it, at least. This one requires developer implementation too, but it’s likely more websites and services will support Two-Factor syncing in the future. Until then, you can see how the feature works with this mock-up test site Google created.
Android: New Google Search UI and Material You support for Android 12
Chrome 93 also brings some UI changes to the Chrome Android app.
First, the recently overhauled continuous results feed for Google Search results has been refined. The new design was originally added to Android back in Chrome 91 as an experimental test that let you open and tab between pages from a scrolling bar at the top of the Chrome window. The bar scrolls continuously through the search results, so you can jump between pages quickly.
Chrome 93 makes the cards easier to read and reportedly more responsive than in their initial implementation. Turning on the new search results bar still requires you to dig through the experimental flags menu, however:
- In the Chrome Android app, go to chrome://flags#continuous-search
- Enable the setting from the drop-down menu.
- Restart the app when prompted.
- After the app reboots, make a Google Search.
- Select a website from the results. The new continuous search navigation bar will appear at the top of the search results.
Chrome 93 also brings support for Android 12’s Material You interface to Chrome mobile, albeit as yet another experimental feature.
The Material You feature changes the interface for supported Android 12 apps to match your phone’s background, and will likely be a default capability in Chrome for all Android 12 devices once the new OS update rolls out in the coming months. For now, though, you need the Android 12 beta. From there, enable the feature in Chrome’s experimental flags:
- Open the Chrome app and go to chrome://flags#dynamic-colour-android
- Select “Enabled” from the drop-down menu.
- Reboot the app to enable the changes.
- Tap one of the URL info cards at the top of the feed to open the page, and scroll left or right to see more options
Those are the primary changes for general users in Chrome 93, but there’s plenty more for developers to pore over. You can read up on all of it in the update’s release notes.