Google gives Chrome mulligan button
Adds 'reset' option to restore to factory settings, patches 25 security vulnerabilities
Computerworld - Google on Tuesday shipped Chrome 29, patching 25 vulnerabilities and rolling out under-the-hood changes the company said would offer more relevant suggestions when users typed in URLs or search strings.
The upgrade also sported a new option that restores the browser to near-factory defaults -- think of it as a take-a-mulligan button -- which can come in handy when mystery problems persist.
As usual, Google highlighted only a few changes in the newest Chrome.
The technology behind the "Omnibox," as Google insists on calling the combined search-address field, has been improved, the company said in a blog, and should result in "more timely and contextually relevant suggestions" appearing when users type in URLs or conduct a Web search or previously viewed sites.
Chrome 29's other trumpeted change was the reset option, found on the Settings screen.
"For those nostalgic for the new car smell -- maybe you, too, got overzealous with fun extensions -- we've added a new option to the Chrome settings page to let you restore it back to its original state," said Mark Pearson, a Chrome engineer, in the brief blog post.
Pearson added that some elements will not be affected by a reset, most importantly saved bookmarks, but also Web apps and custom visual themes that have been installed and applied.
Chrome was late to the reset party: Microsoft added the same option to Internet Explorer in 2006 with IE7, and Mozilla followed suit in 2012 with Firefox 13.
Google also followed up on a previous promise and added its notification service to Chrome on OS X. The service lets developers of Chrome apps and add-ons display messages and alerts outside the browser window. Notifications debuted on Windows in Chrome 28 in early July. The Linux version remains without the feature, however.
On a Mac, Chrome notifications are not integrated with OS X Mountain Lion's Notification Center, but instead show up in a separate window.
Along with the new features and a slew of bug and stability fixes, Chrome 29 patched 25 security vulnerabilities.
Until July 30, Google had not revealed the number of patched flaws in each Chrome update. Prior to May, the company published what appeared to be a complete list -- although minus an official count -- but from late May though late July, it disclosed a subset of quashed bugs, those deemed "particularly interesting," or which called out researchers who reported issues or who had been awarded bounties.
Starting three weeks ago, Google began naming the number of fixed flaws, though it continued to provide information tidbits about only a handful.
Tuesday, for example, it listed just seven of the 25 patched vulnerabilities in its advisory. Five of those were rated "high," Google's second-most-serious threat ranking, and included the usual "use-after-free" vulnerabilities, a type of memory management bug.
Google paid four researchers a total of $5,174 in bounties, with more than half -- $3,000 -- going to one bug finder, identified only as "cloudfuzzer."
So far this year, the Mountain View, Calif., company has awarded about $256,000 in bounties or hacking contest prizes.
Users can download Chrome 29 for Windows, OS X and Linux from Google's website. Active users can simply let the automatic updater retrieve the new version.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is email@example.com.
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