Google has been working hard to apparently weaken the effectiveness of popular ad-blocking extensions on Google Chrome. The search giant, whose major revenue relies on advertising, has been developing a significantly weakened set of APIs that would eventually “cripple ad blockers”. The first of such newly tweaked and revised set of Extensions API functions could arrive in the beta test builds of Google Chrome soon.
Chrome, one of the most popular web browsers, will soon get the new set of APIs that are reportedly redesigned to diminish the effectiveness of ad-blockers. Users of Chrome, which relies on Google-designed Chromium core, will soon be able to test the first version of the browser that is said to “cripple ad blockers”. The revised set of APIs for extensions that work primarily to obstruct the onslaught of advertising in websites should reportedly arrive within the beta test builds of Chrome in July or August. In other words, beta testers of Google Chrome will get to experience the revamped Extensions API functions and their effectiveness in a Chrome Canary version “at the end of July or beginning of August,” mentioned Simeon Vincent, an Extensions Developer Advocate for the Chromium Project.
The upcoming Google Chrome Canary release will of course be labeled as “Developer Preview.” As expected, quite a few of the popular ad blockers may stop functioning or work erratically as they would essentially be running on top of deprecated Chrome code. Needless to add, this version of Google Chrome is intended primarily towards developers who are supposed to use it as a test base to fine tune their extensions. Developers will be using the build to prepare the extensions for the upcoming changes in the Chrome extensions code.
What Are The New Revised Set Of APIs And How Do They Affect Ad-Blockers?
Google was apparently growing concerned about the exponential rise in the number of malicious extensions for its Chrome browser. In an attempt to curtail their generation and spread, Google announced new rules for the extensions review process. However, the company did not stop at that. It also undertook major changes to Chrome’s extensions codebase.
Google grouped several changes in the Chrome codebase in a new set of rules. The search giant chose to call the same Manifest V3. Essentially, any developer who intended to make extensions for Google Chrome now had to follow Manifest V3 while coding new extensions or updating old ones to work with Chrome’s future codebase.
Google released a detailed document that explains Manifest V3. Eventually, coders and developers who maintained popular ad-blockers for Google Chrome started raising their concerns with the deprecation of a specific API function. Essentially, Google had replaced a core API that majority of ad-blocking extensions relied heavily on, and replaced it with a highly weakened one. Developers noted that the new API function would significantly impact the effectiveness and the ability of “ad blockers, antivirus products, parental control enforcement, and various privacy-enhancing extensions.”
Interestingly, Google appears to be hearing the concerns and has taken a few remedial actions. One of the biggest wins for developers of ad blockers was raising the maximum “rules” limit from 30,000 to 150,000. Incidentally, most of the extensions have rules limit that far exceeds the new allowable limit.
Will Ad-Blocker Extensions Stop Working In Google Chrome Soon?
Ad-blocking extension developers are rightly concerned that the Manifest V3 will fundamentally alter the effectiveness of their creations. Come July or August, all the developers should be able to test their theory. Meanwhile, even Google Chrome users could test how their favorite extensions behave in Chrome Canary.
The Chrome position on this point has been very consistent. Yes, there are very real performance benefits for Declarative Net Request over Web Request, but the primary motivation has always been to improve security and privacy by scoping extensions to the access they need.
— Justin Schuh 🤬 (@justinschuh) June 18, 2019
If Google sticks to the development path of the revised set of APIs, they could arrive in the main stable release of Google Chrome in early 2020. However, there could be disappointment that’s bound to be generated. Moreover, there are several other popular browsers, including Microsoft’s Edge, Opera, Vivaldi, and Brave. which rely on Google’s Chromium core. These web browsers may or may not wholeheartedly support the new changes.
The situation could be a good opportunity for Mozilla Firefox and other browsers that do not depend on the Chromium base. It is interesting to note that Opera, Brave, and Vivaldi have indicated they would attempt to retain the effectiveness of their respective ad-blocking extensions.