By: Ravindra Yadav, Test Architect and QA Manager at Provar

Ravindra Yadav, Test Architect and QA Manager at Provar

What’s new in Chrome 85? Google Chrome is the most widely used browser in the market and is constantly improving. With the upcoming version 85, Chrome is introducing some exciting changes. In this article, I will talk about a few generic and specific forthcoming features and fixes, which could be significant from either a manual or an automation testing perspective.

Note: While writing this blog, Chrome 85 is set to become GA on August 25, 2020. Take a look at the Chrome Release Schedule for the latest information.

Installation Directory Change

This is the most significant change from Google Chrome. In previous versions, despite being a 64-bit app, Chrome was installed in the 32-bit installation directory C: Program Files(x86). From Chrome 85 onwards, it will be installed into C: Program Files to follow the correct 64-bit architecture.

However, since Chrome used to support a 32-bit architecture if you try to upgrade to Chrome 85 (or a later version on an existing Chrome setup), the installation directory will remain the same, i.e., C: Program Files(x86).

Up to 10% Faster Page Loads with Profile Guided Optimization

With Chrome 85, Google introduced Profile Guided Optimization (PGO). With PGO, the most common tasks are prioritized so they can run faster.

As per Google’s published data, page loading is now up to 10% faster on average. When several tabs and applications are open, your CPU will experience even more significant speed improvements

PlatformBrowser Responsiveness* First Contentful Paint**Speedometer 2.0
Mac3.9% faster2.3% faster7.7% faster
Windows7.3% faster3.5% faster11.4% faster

*The above statistics were originally published in the Chromium Blog.

Tab Grouping in Chrome 85

Google has introduced tab grouping in Chrome 85 for better tab management. Users can group tabs of similar tasks and easily discern which tabs belong to which job. Tab groupings also keep similar tabs close to each other.

Tab Grouping in Chrome 85

An additional related feature allows you to collapse and expand tab groupings. This hides behind a flag in Chrome 85 but will be active by default in future releases.

Page Preview on Hovering Tabs

Chrome will now allow you to see a mini visual preview of the page when hovering over unfocused tabs you have opened. 

Chrome 85 Page Preview on Hovering Tabs

Chrome 85 Generate More Accessible PDFs

When you print a web page, Chrome automatically generates a tagged PDF and sets the destination to Save as PDF. Tagged PDFs can be more accessible for many, with hidden accessibility markups that can optimize the experience when using a screen reader or other Assistive Technology (AT).

Tagged PDFs can have other uses, too, such as making it easier for software applications that automatically process and extract data from PDFs.

Lazy Loading for iFrames

Chrome previously supported lazy loading for images, and with Chrome 85, it will now also support it for iFrames. The lazy loading of iFrames will defer the loading of off-screen iFrames until the user scrolls near them. This saves data, speeds up the loading of other page parts, and reduces memory usage. You can use the loading=lazy attribute within an iFrame tag to enable this.

Share the Web Page (address) via QR Code.

Chrome 85 offers the new ability to share a web page URL via a QR code. There is a new Create QR Code for this Page option, which, when clicked, causes Chrome to produce a QR image, which can then be downloaded as a .png.

Please note that the URL for the QR code is generated automatically based on the active tab. However, you can amend the URL directly before clicking Download.

Share Web Page (address) via QR Code in Chrome 85

Ungroup Same Console Messages

Earlier, DevTools had an error where the messages would remain grouped even after unchecking the Group Similar’ option. With Chrome 85, the statements are ungrouped. The Group similar toggle in Console Settings now applies to duplicate messages.

Chrome 85 can Ungroup Same Console Messages

Chrome Driver Fixes

In addition to the exciting features mentioned above, ChromeDriver 85 has addressed a few other pain points.

  • Sendkeys resets text selection with content editable. With this fix, users can now focus on an element inside a content editable element and then send keys inside the editable content.
  • Remove the LaunchApp command from ChromeDriver. Chrome is phasing out support for Chrome Apps across all operating systems. Concerning that, Chrome has removed support for the LaunchApp Command and automation extension.
  • Sometimes, the Navigation Tracker fails to detect when the page has finished loading. There was a race condition between page frame events and the transparent state from the session since ChromeDriver is only maintaining the state for one frame. If the page frame stops loading before clearing the session and the document.readyState loads, it is effectively stuck. The fix is to keep track of your frame states so you don’t have to clear the state from the session but instead switch frames in the navigation tracker.
  • New Print endpoint according to W3C spec. Now, ChromeDriver will allow you to generate a paginated document as a PDF according to W3C specifications. Please reference this document for more information.
  • Driver.get doesn’t show an error when misconfiguring the proxy. If page. Navigate generates an error message for a network-related mistake, returning an unknown error status. Previously, ChromeDriver would not display an error. With Chrome 85, it will show the expected error.
  • Use document.hasFocus() to check if the element is focused. Previously, document.activeElement was returning body when no element had focus. When users first navigate to the URL or switch frames, they don’t want to treat this body as a focus. Using document.hasFocus(), checking this first will verify if the element is focused.
  • The Webdriver exception message is now fixed. Previously, when retrieving HTML from a page containing Unicode characters, you could experience the following error message: selenium.common.exceptions.WebDriverException: Message: unknown error: bad inspector message. They resolve it now with Chrome 85.

In this and other recent releases, Google has optimized its W3C compliance. It’s good to see that the design of these new features aids user productivity and reduces clutter. 


Chromedriver Release Notes

Chrome Beta Updates

DevTools specific updates

Release Schedule