Google will no longer allow installing Chrome extensions from websites
Google Chrome has the privilege of shipping on millions of Android devices around the world, giving it a massive head start in claiming market share. On desktops, Chrome enjoys undisputed popularity, being the browser of choice on every 2 out 3 desktop machines. Part of what makes Chrome so popular is the availability of extensions through the Chrome Web Store — allowing users to customize their Chrome experience to suit their own needs.
However, extensions can often modify the experience in ways that an average user may not be able to comprehend or predict. Google mentions on its Chromium blog that they have been receiving large volumes of complaints from users about unwanted extensions causing undesirable changes in the user experience, with the biggest culprit being extensions available through inline installation on websites.
Inline installations were introduced in Google Chrome 15 in 2011 to provide websites with an intuitive and easy way to install extensions. Users no longer needed to navigate away from the website to the Chrome store, install the extension, and then return. Instead, they could simply click the install button for an extension hosted on the Chrome Web Store, all without leaving the webpage.
The move was apparently counter-productive to the user experience. Google found that these inline installations actually took away necessary information that a user could rely on to predict the usefulness of the extension, as well as instructions on its use. Without these, user complaints significantly rose and extensions were more likely to be uninstalled.
As a result, Google has decided to retire inline installations on all platforms. Users will now only be able to install extensions from within the Google Chrome Web Store, where they can view all information about an extension’s functionality prior to installation, and thus make an informed decision. The change will roll out in three phases:
- Today: inline installation will be unavailable to all newly published extensions.
Extensions first published on June 12, 2018 or later that attempt to call the chrome.webstore.install() function will automatically redirect the user to the Google Chrome Web Store in a new tab to complete the installation.
- September 12, 2018: inline installation will be disabled for existing extensions, and users will be automatically redirected to the Chrome Web Store to complete the installation.
- In early December 2018, the inline install API method will be removed from Chrome 71.
Website developers who rely on inline installation will need to update the install buttons on their website to link to their extension’s Chrome Web Store prior to the stable release of Chrome 71. You can also opt to use Google Chrome’s install badge for greater visibility.
In the age of deceptive ads, websites, and extensions, the move to remove inline installations was a long time coming. Hopefully, the end-user finds the change to be in their best interest.
Source: Chromium Blog