Google Chrome 88 Beta adds payment API for web apps, plus tab searches

Google Chrome 88 Beta adds payment API for web apps, plus tab searches

Google has promoted Chrome 88 to the Beta Channel ahead of a stable release in the early days of 2021. Now, we should just warn you up front that this is not going to be a release of mind-crunching innovation, but there are a number of cool things going on in the Flags menu that are worthy of a quick look, so away we go.

First up, the groundwork has begun to offer “How To” videos for some of Chrome’s features. As spotted by Android Police, a new flag called #video-tutorials has appeared in the Android version of Chrome. Enabling it brings up a card with a carousel of short help videos. The content currently available has been lifted from the Google Go app, so it’s not actually that useful right now, but you can see where this is all going. All the videos carry a share button, and once you’ve watched them all, you’ll be taken to a menu where you can pick and choose the ones you want. There’s currently no evidence of this functionality coming to the desktop.


The long-awaited Digital Goods API is also introduced in Chrome 88. This allows developers of progressive web apps (PWA) and website containers to accept payments through Google’s billing systems (ie Google Pay). Up to now, only fully-fledged apps could use this feature, but with Google’s enthusiasm for web-apps, it was only a matter of time before this anachronism was corrected.

New to desktop versions of Chrome is a search bar for your tabs. Now that Google is beginning to get on top of the RAM-hogging tendencies of the browser, it’s introducing an easier way to rifle through the 40 you probably have open right now – yeah, you – we can see you. When you’re up and running with Chrome 88 Beta, you’ll notice a new dropdown button on the right-hand side of the screen. Clicking this will bring a dropdown (duh) of all your currently open tabs, making it easier to find the one you were looking for. If the tab names aren’t ringing any bells, no worries, there’s a search box too. Alternatively, the menu can be accessed with the Ctrl+Shift+A keyboard shortcut. Tab search should be enabled by default, but if it isn’t for any reason, the flag #enable-tab-search just needs a nudge to the ‘on’ position.

For anyone that uses Incognito Mode, the fact that screenshotting has been suppressed up to now might be a relief, but if you have a burning desire to take a dump of something you’re looking at undercover, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can now enable #incognito-screenshot, and PrtScrn to your heart’s content.

There are the usual plethora of smaller updates too, you can check them all out in the Chromium Blog, but a few highlights for you:

  • Chrome for Mac now requires macOS 10.11 or above, (sorry Yosemite users)
  • The legacy browser support extension has now been removed in favor of native compatibility within the main Chrome codebase.
  • All code relating to FTP sharing has been removed from Chrome

You can download Chrome 88 Beta from this desktop link, or Android users can download Chrome Beta from the Play Store.  The Beta versions can be installed without affecting your existing stable versions. Alternatively, hang on 45 days or so, and it’ll be stable anyway. The current stable version is Chrome 87, whilst brave Canary users are now bug-squashing Chrome 89.

Chrome Beta
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

About author

Chris Merriman
Chris Merriman

I am the UK News Editor at XDA Developers. I’ve been writing about technology for over a decade for the likes of The Inquirer, where I was Associate Editor, Computer Shopper UK, and IT Pro. I’ve also appeared on Sky News, BBC, Al Jazeera and recently left a long-running weekly tech news spot on TalkRadio UK. My love of technology comes from my family who hail from the pioneering days of Silicon Valley - in fact my Grandfather worked on Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. I’ve been using smartphones (and reading XDA) since the HTC Canary in 2003. I’m also a smart home obsessive. You can find me tweeting as @ChrisTheDJ.

We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.