Chrome already has an RSS client, changes in User-Agent and the password manager

Google recently released a number of changes which have been introduced as experimental functions within the «Canary» branch, one of the new functions that is incorporated is the experimental tracking to Chrome with a built-in RSS client.

Users they can subscribe to RSS feeds of sites of interest through the "Follow" button in the menu and track the appearance of new posts in the Next section on the page to open a new tab. Testing of the new feature will begin in the coming weeks and will be limited to select US Chrome for Android users.

Another of the changes that are being integrated into Chrome is phasing out the content of the HTTP User-Agent header, since Google had previously released its plans for such action, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, these changes were not carried out.

In Chrome 89, the User-Agent Client Hints mechanism was enabled by default, which is being developed as a replacement for User-Agent, and now Google intends to move on to experiments to cut functionality associated with User-Agent. User-Agent Client Hints that allows to organize the selective delivery of data on specific parameters of the browser and the system (version, platform, etc.) only after a request from the server. The user, in turn, can determine what information can be provided to the site owners.

When using User-Agent Client Hints, the identifier is not transmitted by default without an explicit request, but only the basic parameters are indicated by default, which makes passive identification difficult.

Until the migration to Client Hints is complete, Google does not intend to change user-agent behavior to stable releases.

At least in 2021, no changes will be made to the User-Agent. But in the test branches of Chrome, the experiments will start by truncating the information in the User-Agent header and JavaScript parameters.

After cleaning, it will be possible to find out in the User-Agent line the name of the browser, the significant version of the browser, the platform and the type of device (mobile phone, PC, tablet). For additional data, you will need to use the User Agent Client Suggestion API.

There are 7 stages of gradual User-Agent trimming:

  • In Chrome 92, the DevTools Issues tab will start showing obsolescence warnings.
  • In Origin test mode, sites will have the opportunity to enable truncated User-Agent transfer mode. Tests in this mode will last at least 6 months.
  • Sites that failed to migrate to API Client Hints will receive a reverse proof of origin, allowing the old behavior to be returned in at least 6 months.
  • The Chrome version number in the User-Agent will be abbreviated in the format MINOR.BUILD.PATCH
  • Version information will be truncated in the navigator.userAgent, navigator.appVersion, and navigator.platform desktop APIs.
  • Information transfer from mobile platform to Chrome for Android will be reduced (Android version and device model code name are currently transferred).
  • Support for the reverse Origin trial will be discontinued and only a shortened user agent will be offered for all pages.

Finally, we can also find in Chrome that plans to implement in password manager Chrome built-in the function of automating the change of passwords in case a compromised password is detected.

In particular, if during verification it turns out that the account has been compromised as a result of a leak of the site's password database, the user will be offered a button to quickly change the password on the site.

For supported sites, the password change process will be automated: the browser will complete and submit the necessary forms on its own. Each step of the password change will be shown to the user, who can intervene at any time and switch to manual mode.

To automate the interaction with the password change forms on different sites, the Duplex machine learning system is used, which is also used in Google Assistant. The new feature will be rolled out gradually for users starting with Chrome for Android in the US.


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