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InfoQ Homepage News Chrome 81 Release Features New AR and NFC Features, and Redesigned HTML Form Controls

Chrome 81 Release Features New AR and NFC Features, and Redesigned HTML Form Controls

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Google recently released Chrome 81 on desktop and mobile phones. This latest release provides new augmented reality (AR) features and new NFC features, and also shipped with redesigned HTML form controls. The redesign aims at improving the look and feel of form controls, and providing better accessibility and touch support.

Chrome 81 improved support for augmented reality with two new immersive features. The WebXR device API was first featured in Chrome 79, and focused on the virtual reality portion of the WebXR standard. The implementation of the WebXR device API now includes the augmented reality portion of the standard.

Chrome 81 also adds support for the WebXR Hit Test API, a means of placing virtual objects in a real-world camera view. The Chrome team provided a demo of the feature, with a sample AR application letting the user add a flower at different locations of a 3D scene:

AR Hit Testing API demo

Following the introduction of the Web Bluetooth API in Chrome 56, Chrome 81 supports the Web NFC API, as an origin trial. Near Field Communication (NFC) enables wireless communication between two devices at close proximity, usually less than a few centimeters. NFC may typically be used in a situation where an employee uses their badge to access their office building. The Bluetooth and NFC web APIs aim at giving web applications the same hardware access capabilities as native applications. Google underlined the possible use cases:

Examples of sites that may use Web NFC include:

  • Museums and art galleries can display additional information about a display when the user touches their device to an NFC card near the exhibit.
  • Inventory management sites can read or write data to the NFC tag on a container to update information on its contents.
  • Conference sites can use it to scan NFC badges during the event.
  • Sites can use it for sharing initial secrets needed for device or service provisioning scenarios and also to deploy configuration data in operational mode.

The Chrome team also published an article explaining how to interact with NFC devices on Chrome, and detailing how to construct and interpret payloads.

Chrome 81 additionally modernized the appearance of form controls on Windows, ChromeOS, and Linux while improving their accessibility and touch support (with Mac and Android support coming soon). The redesign is the result of a collaboration between Microsoft and Google, described in a recent talk at Chrome Dev Summit 2019. The Chrome team published a full list of the HTML elements going through changes. Microsoft also detailed the changes in a separate note. A sample of the changes is as follows:
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A list of features in origin trials is available in the release note. Chrome 81’s developer tools also benefit from additional functionalities.

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