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Google Chrome for iOS just got its first update in ages — here's what's in it

Google Chrome
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google Chrome on iOS has had its first update in 2021 and another, version 90, is due next week which will add new features. Version 87.0.4280.163 includes several security and stability updates and includes improvements to auto-fill, which Google says is now more secure.

In addition, you’ll be asked to authenticate via Face ID, touch ID or your passcode from now on. 

Version 90 will include some new features with 9to5Google reporting that Google has been testing authentication to access your Incognito browser tabs. 

There may be other privacy updates, although it's unclear if the iOS version of Chrome will see Google’s new FLoC advertiser tracking that the company is using to replace third-party cookies. 

The rumor mill had suggested that Google was avoiding updates on iOS because of Apple’s strict new requirements for developers to disclose how personal information was used by the company. Google denied this but was also clearly way behind its own schedule because its apps were telling users they were out of date before the company patched them server-side to prevent the warnings. 

Google's privacy scorecard for Chrome

(Image credit: Apple)

Google, like many developers, pauses updates over the Christmas period. This is to ensure that there are no serious issues emerging while people take time off during the holiday season. However, the timing was incredibly suspicious as Apple had told developers that updates after December 8 2020 would need a privacy label to pass its approval process. Google paused a lot of updates and didn’t start to resume them until February, when YouTube got new versions of its apps. 

Apple will roll out additional changes in iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5 and tvOS 14.5 that will require developers to implement its app tracking transparency framework. This will require users to consent to apps tracking them using their device advertiser ID. If a user refuses, Apple zeros the ID visible to developers, which makes it harder to keep tabs on users. 

Google’s latest Chrome update does indeed reveal what data the company uses to track you. Highlights include sending information back to base about how much you use the app, contact information, financial info and browsing data. These are all directly linked to your Google profile, with some information like crash diagnostics being anonymized first. 

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A tech journalist with many years of experience, Ian got his start writing about the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray. Technology might have moved on, but there's still plenty of skirmishes to report on.