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Last week, Google announced the release of Chrome 78 beta. Its stable version is scheduled to release in October this year. Chrome 78 will release with a couple of new APIs including the CSS Properties and Values API and Native File System API.

Key updates in Chrome 78 beta

The CSS Properties and Values API

The Houdini’s CSS Properties and Values API will be supported in Chrome 78. The Houdini task force consists of engineers from Mozilla, Apple, Opera, Microsoft, HP, Intel, and Google.

In CSS, developers can define user-controlled properties using CSS custom properties, also known as CSS variables. However, the CSS custom properties do have a few limitations that make them difficult to work with. The CSS Properties and Values API addresses these limitations by allowing the registration of properties that have a value type, an initial value, and a defined inheritance behavior.

The Native File System API

Chrome 78 will support the Native File System API, which will enable web applications to interact with files on the user’s local device like IDEs, photo and video editors, text editors, and more. After permission to access local files is received, the API will allow web applications to read or save changes directly to files and folders on the user’s device.

The SMS Receiver API

Websites send a randomly generated one-time-password (OTP) to verify a phone number. This way of verification is cumbersome as it requires a user to manually enter or copy and paste the password into a form.

Starting with Chrome 78, users will be able to skip this manual interaction completely with the help of the SMS Receiver API. It provides websites an ability to programmatically obtain OTPs from SMS as a solution “to ease the friction and failure points of manual user input of SMS codes, which is prone to error and phishing.

Origin trials

Chrome 78 introduces origin trials that allow developers to try new features and share their feedback on “usability, practicality, and effectiveness to the web standards community.” Developers can register to enable an origin trial feature for all users on their origin for a fixed period of time. To know what features are available as an origin trial, check out the Origin Trials dashboard.

Among the deprecations are, disallowing synchronous XHR during page dismissal and the removal of XSS Auditor.

On a discussion on Hacker News, users were skeptical about the new Native File System API. A user commented, “I’m not sure about how to think about the file system API. On one hand, is great to see that secure file system access is possible in-browser, which allows most electron apps to be converted into PWAs. That’s great, I no longer need to run 5 different chromium instances.

On the other hand, I’m really not sure if I like the future of editing Microsoft Office documents in the browser. I heavily believe that apps should have an integrated UX (with appropriate OS-specific widgets) because it allows coherency and familiarity.

To know what else is coming in Chrome 78, check out the official announcement by Google.

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