Google cracks down on 3rd-party Chromium browsers using Chrome Sync
If you are using a third-party Chromium-based browser with Chrome Sync, then you’ll be disappointed to learn that Google is cracking down on this practice.
In a short blog post published on the Chromium Blog, Google announced that it will limit access to its private Chrome APIs starting on March 15, 2021. These APIs are used by Google’s official Chrome browser to support proprietary features like Chrome Sync and Click to Call. The former allows users to sync bookmarks, browser history, open tabs, and more between browsers signed in to the same Google Account, while the latter lets users quickly make a phone call from any web page by clicking a valid phone number. Both of these features were developed by Google and are not part of the open-source Chromium project upon which Google Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers — such as Microsoft Edge — are based.
By limiting access to private Chrome APIs, Google does not intend to punish users of third-party Chromium browsers. Google will not delete any data already synced from these third-party browsers, but they also won’t sync any new data after March 15th. If you have any data stored locally with a third-party Chromium browser, Google encourages you to go to your My Google Activity page to view and manage your data or go to Google Takeout to download your data.
Today’s move is unsurprising. Chrome Sync has never been a standard feature of Chromium-based browsers, and many third-party Chromium browsers will explicitly warn you about that. Google has restricted access to other private APIs in the past — notably over on the Android side of things — so any developer that enabled Chrome Sync in their project knew that this might happen. It’s a shame, but it’s one of Google’s best methods to get people to use Chrome instead of another Chromium-based browser.