The Reason Why Google Chrome 3.0 Comes with Extension Auto-Update
Article by George Norman
On 23 Jul 2009
Google just released a new update on the dev channel, mainly Chrome for Windows, Mac Os X and Linux-powered machines. The update, which comes with several enhancements and bug fixes (details here), also comes with an interesting new feature: extension auto-update capability. What this means is that if you have Google Chrome extensions installed, and who doesn’t, they can now update themselves periodically with no user intervention.

Work on the extensions system in Google Chrome is far from complete, but the simple truth of the matter is that numerous Chrome users added, or even created extensions to use on a day to day basis. The Chrome development team finds this a sign of encouragement – encouragement to finish its work and enable extension in Chrome by default. This means all Chrome versions.


Extensions are great pieces of software that integrate with the Chrome browser; the problem is that by integrating with Chrome in order to change bits an pieces in it, some security issues come up. Software Engineer Aaron Boodman explains that a Chrome extension that notifies you how many emails you have in your Gmail inbox can be used to read the emails in your inbox and relay that info further downstream. Boodman says the emails could be tweeted to the user’s mom, but I’m thinking something on the lines of a hacker, or person with malicious intent.

It is thus important that the user remains safe at all times, and one of the means employed by Google to reach this goal is to enable auto-update for extensions. Boodman explains: “To help protect your experience when using extensions, we recently enabled auto-update for extensions on the dev channel release. Like Chrome's auto-update mechanism, extensions will be updated using the Omaha protocol, giving developers the ability to push out bug fixes and new features rapidly to users of their extensions. This is an important step towards a v1 release of extensions for all users, so we're pretty excited.”

There’s more good news: Google plans to provide a gallery of Chrome extensions with ratings and comments, once the extension system goes live. This way you can judge for yourself if you want to add a particular extension to Google Chrome or if you want to skip it. On top of that Google will once again address the security issue by employing a process that will filter out malicious extensions. But until that happens, Boodman recommends that you only install extensions you created yourself.

Tags: Google, Chrome, Dev Channel, Update, Extension
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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