An ‘apocalypse’ is coming in Google Chrome ; Many of the extensions that millions of users use daily while browsing the Internet are going to stop working from one day to the next , due to one of the biggest changes in the browser in its 15 years of life.
Not exactly a surprise; In reality, Google has been announcing its plans since 2018, but has had to delay them and modify them at least a couple of times, in response to criticism from users and developers.
But time is running out, and Google has finally released the deadline: June 2024 ; That will be when Chrome can go from being an essential program to one of the first that we uninstall on our computer. It all depends on whether Google has calculated the risk correctly.
Goodbye to Chrome extensions
The controversy has to do with Manifest V3, the third version of Chrome extension support . Extensions are small programs that run within the browser, usually to add functions that it does not have by default. Extensions were once a great reason to change browsers, as they offered great power to the user to enjoy the Internet exactly the way they wanted. The most well-known type of extension is the ad blocker, but there are also extensions that improve our privacy or make it easier to use certain web pages.
However, extensions can also be very dangerous, since they have access to all our activity in the browser; and there are not rare cases of extensions that were reliable and that began to steal data as soon as they changed owners, for example. Although browsers have implemented measures, such as permissions, to prevent these practices, they are still a potential danger, and Google Chrome has had many malicious extensions in its official store.
That is the reason that Google has given for launching Manifest V3, which greatly limits the capabilities of extensions for Chrome; Although many will not be affected and will function as usual, others will find it really difficult, if not impossible, to offer the same functions. Specifically, the most controversial part is that extensions can no longer modify web pages as they wish, eliminating parts that the user does not want; We are talking, of course, about the advertisements.
It is no secret that Google has gotten to where it is thanks to the multimillion-dollar advertising revenue it offers on services and web pages; and in a difficult time like the one it lives in (this year it announced the largest number of layoffs in its history ), the launch of Manifest V3 is suspicious to say the least (although as we have said, it is not a new change). Critics accuse the company of killing off ad blockers after taking advantage of them to boost Chrome’s popularity; And it is undeniable that, if Chrome had not been compatible with these extensions, it would not have reached the number of users it now has.
In its defense, Google claims that it has responded to developers’ questions and requests by modifying Manifest V3 to make it more similar to the Manifest V2 it replaces; However, it has not eliminated the most controversial parts. In the case of blockers, the limits have been increased , but not completely removed; so it may affect its operation, but not enough for the average user to notice.
Google states that it will work to ensure that the change affects users as little as possible, offering alternatives and explaining the changes; but the developers of some of the most used extensions in Chrome have already warned that they will not switch to Manifest V3, even at the risk of them stopping working. The true impact of this decision will be felt in June 2024; For now, rivals like Firefox have already promised that they will continue to allow blocking extensions , even if they adopt Manifest V3.