If you’re like me, you’ve used Google’s Chrome browser for a number of years now. It offers great features – cross-platform browser syncing, extensions, it’s fast and free – but it’s not perfect. We make do with its fairly crummy memory management because overall it’s a good experience, but Google’s about to take it a step backwards.
One of the great things people enjoy about Chrome is ad-block extensions which prevent some of the nastier experiences on the web. Advertising keeps websites like ours running, and we like to think we keep the advertising pretty subtle, but some websites take it to the extreme, and for them, ad-blocking is almost essential.
However, Google has confirmed that in a future release (and not distant future, we mean quite soon) the ability for ad-blocking extensions to do their thing will be removed.
The proposal–dubbed Manifest V3–will see a major transformation to Chrome extensions that includes a revamp of the permissions system. It will mean modern ad blockers such as uBlock Origin—which uses Chrome’s webRequest API to block ads before they’re downloaded–won’t work. This is because Manifest V3 sees Google halt the webRequest API’s ability to block a particular request before it’s loaded.
9to5Google highlighted a single sentence buried in the text of Google’s response to the complaints, which clarified the changes:
“Chrome is deprecating the blocking capabilities of the webRequest API in Manifest V3, not the entire webRequest API (though blocking will still be available to enterprise deployments).”
If ad-blocking matters to you, what can you do now?
Probably the easiest alternative browser to switch to for Google Chrome users will be Brave; it works almost exactly the same way, supports Chrome Extensions, and has native ad-blocking functionality built into the browser, which isn’t dependent on extensions to work. If you’re looking for something a little bit different, Mozilla’s Firefox is an extremely capable Chrome alternative, and while it doesn’t support the same extension format, it has a healthy library of its own which make migrating from Chrome to Firefox very easy.
Will you be sticking with Chrome if it forces you to view all the ads on the web? I know I probably won’t … I don’t mind display ads, but pop-up, full-site takeover ads just drive me nuts.