Chrome 57 Brings Back DRM Toggle, Supports CSS Grid Layout, WebAssembly

Chrome 57 rolled out with support for the low-level WebAssembly programming language for the web, CSS Grid Layout to make it easier for web developers to support multiple screen sizes, and a “protected content” toggle.

DRM Toggle Is Back

While Chrome 57 was still in beta, Google deprecated the chrome://plugins page, where users could disable not just the Widevine DRM plugin, but also the company’s own PDF reader and Native Client plugins. Native Client is the company’s sandboxing technology that allows native x86, ARM, and MIPS code to run in the browser.

The removal of the plugins page created a bit of a backlash on the Chromium forums. Users wanted to be able to disable the Widevine plugin, as well as the rest of the plugins, in case they didn’t want to run them for security reasons or if they were causing other technical issues on their systems.

Google seems to have listened to this feedback and it moved the toggles for DRM and the PDF reader plugins to chrome://settings/content. The DRM toggle can be found under “Protected Content,” and the PDF plugin can be disabled under “PDF Documents.”

The company seems to have removed the Native Client toggle, so users shouldn’t be able to disable that plugin anymore. However, with the arrival of WebAssembly, Native Client’s future is uncertain anyway.

WebAssembly

WebAssembly is a low-level programming language with its own portable binary format that developers can target to create games and web applications with near-native performance. WebAssembly is, in a way, an evolution of what Google was trying to do with Native Client, and what Mozilla was trying to do with asm.js, a JavaScript-based Native Client competitor.

The four major browser vendors (Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, and Apple) joined together to design WebAssembly. The vendors announced at the end of last month that the initial version of WebAssembly was complete, and it can now be enabled by default in browsers. Firefox 52 enabled it this week, and now it’s Chrome’s turn. We’ll likely see it enabled soon on Microsoft’s Edge and Apple’s Safari, as well.

CSS Grid Layout

The CSS Grid Layout specification will allow developers to use a two-dimensional grid-based layout system. This will lead to a more responsive interface across a variety of screen sizes.

The elements in the grid can span multiple columns and rows, and regions in the grid can also be named, which should make it easier to understand a website’s layout code.

Media Session API

The new Media Session API for the mobile version of Chrome will allow developers to show rich messages and content about their videos on the user’s lockscreen or in the notifications panel. Users will also be able to use various commands like seeking or skipping when interacting with those notifications.

Chrome 57 brought a set of other smaller features and 36 security fixes as well, so you may want to check for the update on the browser’s About page.

Chrome 57: Grid based layouts, Media Session API and more

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