Chrome 86 paves the way for more powerful and richer web apps

Web technologies have grown at an impressive rate and degree in the past years but there are still some things that they can’t easily do compared to their native counterparts. Part of that is due to the very nature of web browsers that try to sandbox web pages and web apps as much as possible to prevent malware from getting through. The other is that the Web revolves around standards that have to be agreed on first.

As one of the Web’s biggest stockholders, Google has been doing a rather delicate dance to address both, and Chrome 86 is adding more tools to developers’ belt to make web apps just as feature-rich as native.

A web page’s access to the underlying computer’s or phone’s hardware is limited by design. Imagine a wayward Javascript that is able to easily take control of your hard drive or touch screen. On the other hand, it also makes web apps less useful for even simple things like opening or saving files.

The Native File System API that has been proposed to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) tries to address that point. It would allow web apps like photo editors, text editors, or even integrated development environments (IDEs) to access files using the platform’s native file dialogs. This goes a long way in making web apps look and behave like regular apps instead of feeling like they’re running inside a browser tab.

Chrome 86 also starts the Origin Trial or test for secure payment confirmation. Building upon the Web Authentication API, this feature tries to fulfill requirements that banks have for online payments.

The latest beta version of Chrome has also started testing support for WebHID API, a feature that would make it easier to support gamepads. With the advent of game streaming, especially via browser technologies the way Stadia does, supporting different input and output devices will become even more important for web apps and games.

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