In a nutshell: Google has released Chrome 90 to the stable channel for desktops. With it comes the usual slew of new features, upgrades, and fixes, the most significant being the switch to HTTPS as the default protocol.
Google has been pushing to move the entire web to HTTPS for years by, among other things, labeling all HTTP sites as “Not Secure” and only allowing encrypted pages to download secure files. It appears the plan is working: 97 of the top 100 websites now default to HTTPS, while 98 percent of Chrome pages loaded on Chrome OS are encrypted, and 90 percent loaded on Windows are protected.
Any URL entered in the address bar of Chrome 90 that does not contain a protocol, such as “example.com,” will automatically be considered to be an HTTPS connection. Previously, Chrome would try to connect to the URL using the http:// protocol. Google says the move will improve privacy and page loading speeds.
Google added that there are exceptions to this rule. IP addresses, single label domains, and reserved hostnames such as test/ or localhost/ will continue defaulting to HTTP.
“HTTPS protects users by encrypting traffic sent over the network, so that sensitive information users enter on websites cannot be intercepted or modified by attackers or eavesdroppers,” writes Google.
Elsewhere in Chrome 90, users get a built-in AV1 encoder. Optimized for video conferencing with WebRTC, it offers better compression efficiency and visual quality while reducing bandwidth consumption. It will also improve streaming on low-bandwidth networks (30kbps and under), and offer better screen sharing efficiency than VP9 and other codecs.
The Google Tab Search feature that arrived in Chrome 88 is rolling out to more users, without needing to enable a flag. When activated, clicking a drop-down arrow on the top bar shows all open tabs, and there’s a search option for finding the one you’re looking for—helpful for those who keep huge numbers of tabs open. You can also hide the Reading List without using flags.
You can download Chrome 90 securely right here.