For several years, Google has been preparing a big update to Chrome, called Manifest V3. The reason this update is so important is because it completely replaces the Chrome extensions platform, forcing extension developers to modify their apps. According to Google, this transition from Manifest V2 to Manifest V3 is intended to improve security, privacy and performance. But because of this project, Google has also been in conflict with ad blocker developers.
This is because Manifest V3 imposes limits on the content filtration capabilities of extensions, which directly affects ad blocking extensions. And since online advertising is Google’s main source of revenue, this was very badly taken. Moreover, the Mountain View firm ended up suspending the deployment of this update. But a few days ago, it indicated that it was continuing the deployment, taking into account feedback from developers.
“We will start disabling Manifest V2 extensions in pre-stable versions of Chrome (Dev, Canary and Beta) starting in June 2024, in Chrome 127 and later. Users affected by the rollout will see Manifest V2 extensions automatically disabled in their browser and will no longer be able to install Manifest V2 extensions from the Chrome Web Store.we read in Google’s announcement.
Deployment in 2024, with some changes
The good news is that the Manifest V3 platform that Google is preparing to deploy on Google Chrome is different from what was initially planned. After announcing a pause in December, Google took into account feedback from developers. And among the changes made to Manifest V3, there is a “improved support for content filtering by providing more generous limits […]”. In other words, Manifest V3 should give ad blockers more leeway than initially anticipated.
And it is possible that these changes made by Google to its project have satisfied some ad blocker developers. In a blog post, the developer of the AdGuard application indicates that things are not so bad after all. “Despite losing a small part of their functionality, ad blockers will still be able to offer almost the same quality of filtering that they demonstrated with Manifest V2”writes this one.
Less important limits
However, this is not unanimous. Quoted by The Verge, Alexei Miagkov, senior technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (an American NGO which campaigns for the right to privacy), explains that if the changes made by Google can help ad blockers, we remain on a system that is limited and therefore prevents innovation.
“The big problem remains the same: if extensions can’t innovate, users lose and trackers win… We all now depend on Google to continue to evolve the API to keep pace with advertisers and trackers”he also explained.
Note that with regard to trackers, Google is also preparing an update to Chrome which will block third-party cookies (used for advertising tracking) in favor of technology that is more respectful of privacy.
- Google announces the deployment of the Manifest V3 update to the Google Chrome extensions platform in 2024
- This has been feared by ad blocker developers, since it imposes limits on the content filtering capabilities of extensions
- But Google has already paused the deployment of this update and at the end of this pause, it revised the limits of Manifest V3 for ad blockers
- One developer even claims that ad blockers should be able to offer the same quality of filtering after this update.