File Under: Browsers

Google Chrome Adds ‘Do Not Track’ Privacy Tools

Chrome 23′s new cookie and permissions menu. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey

Google has updated its Chrome web browser to version 23, which adds support for GPU-accelerated video and a new, easier way to manage a website’s cookies and permissions. Chrome 23 also brings, at long last, Google’s promised support for the Do Not Track header.

For existing users Chrome 23 will arrive via auto-update. Anyone wanting to take the latest stable release for a spin can grab a copy from Google.

Chrome 23′s new GPU-accelerated video decoding promises to use less power than previous releases — which tap your PC’s CPU to display web video — but is thus far only available with the Windows release. According to the Chrome blog, Google’s test showed that a laptop’s battery lasts 25 percent longer when watching GPU-accelerated video. So far there’s no word on when GPU video acceleration will be coming to either the Mac or Linux versions of Chrome.

Anyone who likes to micromanage their cookies will like Chrome 23′s new interface for controlling a site’s permissions. While it was always possible to manage cookies on a per-site basis, the controls for doing so were buried three levels deep in Chrome’s preferences. Now you can just click the page icon (next to the URL) and a new drop-down menu will reveal how many cookies a page has set and how many (if any) Chrome has blocked. There’s also a link to change the cookie settings, delete existing cookies and block any domains you don’t want tracking you.

The new drop-down menu also has options to control a website’s permissions for features like geolocation, pop-ups, plugins, fullscreen mode, camera/microphone access and more. There’s technically nothing new about these permissions — they’ve all been available through Chrome’s preferences page for some time — but the new user interface for accessing them is the best I’ve seen in any browser (and one I hope other browsers copy).

The new cookie control UI arrives alongside Google’s first official support for the nascent (and possibly very flawed) Do Not Track privacy header. Chrome is the last browser to add support for Do Not Track and, like every other browser except IE 10, Chrome’s Do Not Track support is disabled by default. To turn it on just head to Chrome’s preferences page, click the “Advanced” link and check the box next to the new option to “Send a ‘Do Not Track’ request with your browsing traffic.”