Chrome 109 upgrades video calls - but it's up to developers to add the changes

Google Chrome icon on Android device
(Image credit: TechRadar)

Google is currently rolling out the stable version of Chrome 109 on desktop and mobile as it adds new features - however, those features are dependent on third-party developers implementing them.

The update provides new tools to improve the interactivity between their software and the browser. It includes Conditional Focus, which will allow a video conferencing app to decide if it wants to focus on either a tab or window when screen sharing begins. If the developers want neither, they can set the capturing page as the main display instead. 

In a similar fashion to what Zoom already does, the browser will also be able to suppress audio in a video call so people don’t have to mute their microphone. The main difference is Chrome’s audio suppression appears to work with all video conferencing apps so long as the developers have tweaked their software to support it.

Firsty-party changes

The Chrome 109 update package includes some first-party changes that the everyday user will enjoy. If the browser detects that you downloaded something potentially malicious, it will offer a more detailed explanation of why it stopped the download. For example, the warning will explicitly tell you if the file has malware that could potentially steal information from your social media accounts. The “From the web” feature, which informs users about a particular web page, has been renamed to “About this page” making its function more obvious. 

17 security fixes are present in Chrome 109, but most of them aren’t dire. The majority are patches for some poorly implemented components like Fullscreen API and Permission prompts for a smoother experience. We should also mention that this is the last version of Chrome for Windows 7 and 9.1 Moving forward, there will be no more updates or security fixes.

For Chrome 109 on mobile, the browser now works with the experimental Secure Payment Confirmation (SPC) standard allowing people to use their phone’s biometric screen unlocking feature for verifying payments. Instead of having to go through multiple pages to verify your identity, you can just use your fingerprint. This feature is contingent on banks, credit card issuers, and payment platforms implementing SPC on their software, so it may be a while before this sees widespread support. 

Other notable developer-centric features like the new CSS values can be found on Chrome Developers blog

Experimental features

As for the rest of the features, they’re all experimental, meaning their quality will be a little dubious. Material You theming is present on Chrome for desktop, allowing you to change the look of the browser on the New Tab page. 

However, it appears to only be fully functional on the Canary channel; a special version of Chrome where users can try out experimental features. There’s also Tab Groups Save to transfer tab groups from one version of Chrome (Windows, Mac, or Linux) for use on other operating systems. You can try these out and more for yourself by entering "chrome://flags" in the browser’s address bar after updating.

Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.