Google releases Chrome 81 with 'app badging' for subtle notifications

It was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The stable version of Chrome 81 has arrived for Windows, Mac and Linux after a couple of weeks of delay brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. As ZDNet notes, Google had to move some of the features it was supposed to ship with to future versions, but it still comes with a few notable updates.

The updated Chrome enables a feature called “app icon badging,” which allows apps and websites to notify users of new activities without interrupting them. It’s much less intrusive than outright notifications and could be the better choice for, say, chat and email apps displaying the number of unread messages. Or social media apps displaying the number of times a user has been tagged in a post.

Google has also started the Origin Trial testing of Web NFC — a feature that would allow the Chrome browser to read NFC tags — with this version. Once it’s widely available and adopted, users could simply fire up the browser to interact with museum exhibits that use NFC to offer more information, for instance, or to read information from a badge. No need for special NFC apps anymore.

The tech giant had to pause its regularly scheduled Chrome update rollout in March due to a shift in work schedules. It previously announced that it’s skipping version 82 completely, so the next one that’s coming out is Chrome 83, which will be available sometime in May.