Google Chrome 103 is now available. The new version of Google’s Chrome web browser introduces support for a new pre-rendering technology, which Google says will significantly improve Chrome’s page load speed.
Chrome 103 is already available for desktop systems. The browser updates automatically on most systems, but you can speed up the installation of the new update by loading chrome://settings/help in the browser’s address bar or by selecting Menu > Help > About Google Chrome.
Chrome displays the installed version on the page. It checks for updates and downloads and installs any updates it finds.
Google fixed 14 security issues in Chrome 103, including one with a critical severity rating.
Chrome 103: same-origin prerender
The big new thing about Chrome 103 is that Google is re-prototyping pre-rendering in Chrome to make web pages load faster.
Google pointed out at the time that the new prefetch technology uses less memory than the old one because of this. In a blog post on her Developer blog, Chrome Developers contributor Katie Hempenius pointed out that NoState Prefetch uses around 45MB of memory, while classic pre-rendering more than doubles that.
Although memory usage is reduced, pre-rendering will not be used on low-end devices. Google doesn’t provide a clear definition, but devices with less than 512 megabytes of RAM are considered low-end by the company.
With Prerender2, Google aims to restore preloading functionality to Chrome, but without the issues, which included resource consumption and privacy and security issues, of the previous system it was using.
We are working on a design to address these issues, including unwanted side effects, resource consumption, low success rate, privacy and security issues, and code complexity.
Prerender2 launches in Chrome for Android first, but desktop versions of Chrome will also have the new feature built-in in the future.
Adventurous Chrome users can enable certain flags in the desktop versions of the browser to activate the feature immediately. Note that some features may not yet work as expected and bugs may occur:
- Load chrome://flags/#enable-prerender2 and set the flag to Enabled; this activates the new pre-rendering implementation.
- Load chrome://flags/#omnibox-trigger-for-prerender2 and set the flag to Enabled; this adds address bar triggers for prerendering.
- Load chrome://flags/#search-suggestion-for-prerender2 and set the flag to Enabled; this activates the new prerender engine for search suggestions by the default search engine.
We’ve already looked at Omnibox pre-rendering in Google Chrome. Prerendering2 is only tested in contexts of the same origin at the time.
Other changes in Chrome 103
Chrome Platform Status lists several technology additions and changes in Chrome 103. local fonts.
Sites can use the new Local Font Access API to enumerate local fonts. Users must give sites explicit permission to do so, which reduces the use of the new API for fingerprinting attempts.
Chrome 103 includes several changes that may be relevant to developers. The list is available here.
Now You: What do you think of these changes?