The popular Chrome browser is adding a new machine-learning powered ability in its latest update: Chrome 102 will automatically identify unasked-for permission request notifications and keep them from popping up for website visitors.
Since the tool is powered by machine learning, it can run within the browser itself and won't need to check in with Google to share your browsing data.
It's another example of how modern technology tries to sweep its more cumbersome elements out of sight of the average user, while continuing to shield them from invasive or malicious online snares in the process.
Chrome's New Updates
Google already uses plenty of machine learning: That's how it figures out relevant search results, or which emails to relay to your primary inbox and which to send to folders like Social or Promotions.
The new way Chrome will handle notifications operates similarly. Here's how the Chrome team described it in their announcement:
“On the one hand, page notifications help deliver updates from sites you care about; on the other hand, notification permission prompts can become a nuisance. To help people browse the web with minimal interruption, Chrome predicts when permission prompts are unlikely to be granted based on how the user previously interacted with similar permission prompts, and silences these undesired prompts. In the next release of Chrome, we’re launching an ML model that makes these predictions entirely on-device.”
It sounds like Chrome will need to pull off a bit of a balancing act, since a user might want to accept a permissions prompt on one website while not accepting it on another website that they don't like as much.
Given how often I've had to fish an important email out of my Promotions folder, it's worth questioning how accurately Chrome's machine-learning approach to permissions notifications will work.
More Chrome Updates Are on the Way
It's not the only update that has already gone live this year or is expected to arrive in the future. Here are a few other updates Chrome has recently announced:
- A new ML model for Safe Browsing, which identifies 2.5 times more potential malicious sites and phishing attacks as the last model
- A new feature called “Journeys” that helps users re-locate pages they visited weeks ago, without a painful scroll through the entirity of their browsing history.
- More machine learning, this time in order to “adjust the toolbar in real-time” to highlight one specific tool a user might need when they need it, from link sharing to voice search.
Once fully rolled out, these tools will combine to give users an even more seamless experience than ever.
Staying Safe Online in 2022
Data permissions requests are yet another way we're all trying to stay safe on the internet while keeping up with our email.
After all, it's a jungle out there, with 1.6 million malicious apps culled from the Apple store last year alone, and malware files aimed at any inbox without the right antivirus software.
As other browsers (like Vivaldi) are expanding their own features without tracking as much data as Google, Chrome will need to keep shipshape to stay at the top of the browser pack. Although, with nearly 65% of the market as of May 2022, Chrome probably isn't sweating it too much.