Google has just released Chrome version 17, which brings several minor enhancements to the company’s web browser— including a new web address preloading feature and improved protection against malicious downloads.
The new Chrome introduces a preemptive rendering” feature that will automatically begin loading and rendering a page in the background while the user is typing the address in the omnibox (the combined address and search text entry field in Chrome’s navigation toolbar). The preloading will occur in cases when the top match generated by the omnibox’s autocompletion functionality is a site that the user visits frequently.
When the user hits the enter key and confirms the autocompletion result, the prerendered page will display almost instantly. The feature extends Chrome’s existing predictive page loading functionality to autocompletion results. Unlike Chrome’s instant search capability, however, the autocompletion preloading waits until the user hits the enter key before displaying the rendered page.
Google has also added some new security functionality to Chrome. Every time that the user downloads a file, the browser will compare it against a whiltelist of known-good files and publishers. If the file isn’t in the whitelist, its URL will be transmitted to Google’s servers, which will perform an automatic analysis and attempt to guess if the file is malicious based on various factors like the trustworthiness of its source. If the file is deemed a potential risk, the user will receive a warning.
Google says that data collected by the browser for the malware detection feature is only used to flag malicious files and isn’t used for any other purpose. The company will retain the IP address of the user and other metadata for a period of two weeks, at which point all of the data except the URL of the file will be purged from Google’s databases.
Users who are concerned about the privacy implications of this functionality can prevent the browser from relaying this information to Google by disabling the phishing and malware protection features in the browser’s preferences. You can refer to the official Chromium blog for additional details about the malware detection feature.