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Google Chrome extensions are getting an awesome upgrade — what you need to know

Google Chrome update
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google’s about to make it even easier to figure out whether a Chrome extension is actually worth installing or not. The company has announced it’s started applying two new badges to extensions in the Chrome store, letting you see crucial information at a glance.

The first badge is called ‘Featured’, and is shaped like a prize ribbon. That’s designed to show you the high quality extensions that “follow [Google’s] technical best practices and meet a high standard of user experience and design.”

This badge can only be received through a manual process, which involves actual people assessing the extensions against specific criteria. That includes checking that extensions offer an “enjoyable and intuitive experience” and that developers use the latest APIs, as well as monitoring privacy practices and permissions.

Core features must be “accessible without additional credentials or payments,” and developers need store pages detailing the purpose of each extension they provide and images of it in use. 

The second badge will showcase extensions made by Established Publishers, and is shaped like a checkmark. This one is the Chrome store equivalent of verified social media accounts, with Google revealing that it’s for publishers “who have verified their identity and demonstrated compliance with the developer program policies.” 

In other words, these extensions aren’t likely to have been put there by bad actors, who aim to use an extension for something nefarious. 

But there's more to it than simply verifying who you say you are. Google also requires a “consistent positive track record.” That means no outstanding developer policy violations, and essentially means publishers have to prove they deserve this badge. Because of this, Google says it “will take at least a few months of respecting these conditions to qualify.”

Publishers won’t be able to pay for either of the badges, which should help user trust in the whole system. They can nominate one of their existing extensions for Featured badge consideration, however.

The whole idea here is that Chrome users shouldn’t have any doubts when they install an extension, and won't need to worry that they’re installing something malicious or worthless. So, next time you’re browsing the Chrome store and you see those badges, you can be a bit more confident that you’re getting something good.

Tom Pritchard
Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.