Google pauses Chrome and Chrome OS development due to the coronavirus [Update: Skipping to v83 later in the year]

Bright screen can't lose
Bright screen can't lose (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The Chrome team has pressed pause on the development of future versions of Chrome and Chrome OS.
  • Google cites adjusted work schedules due to the current pandemic.
  • Chrome 80 will be kept updated with safety and security features.

With the novel coronavirus causing a switch to remote working, and a potential loss of productivity due to distraction, the Chrome team has taken the decision to stop the development of the browser temporarily. Citing adjusted work schedules, the focus will be placed on Chrome and Chrome OS 80 for the foreseeable future, with Google issuing security and stability fixes to their most recent release.

With Chrome 80, Google added quieter notifications to the desktop web, tab grouping for Chrome on Android, and support for SVG favicons. For Chromebooks, it added support for Netflix's PiP mode and flags for a new gesture system for tablets. It would have revamped the file manager with Chrome OS 82, and improved Linux integration.

As businesses now have to adapt to different workflows and adjust their priorities, it's not clear when Google will start working on the next version of Chrome. What is clear is that it won't be anytime soon.

Update: The next version of Chrome and Chrome OS will be V83

Google will now be skipping Chrome 82 and halting all development on that version, shifting its focus to Chrome 83.

The decision was announced in the Chromium development forums by Jason Kersey, director of technical program management at Google (via Android Police):

As we adapt our future milestone schedules to the current change in schedule, we have decided to skip the M82 release to ensure we keep users safe and focus all efforts on maintaining stability. Here are some of the immediate actions based on the above decision:

  • We will abandon current M82 branches, remove infra support, and stop testing/merges to the branches
  • We will not push any new M82 releases to Dev, and we will stop stabilization for Beta
  • We will move Dev channel to M83 asap
  • We will keep Beta channel on M81 until M83 is ready to be promoted

Once M81 is cleared to release to Stable, we expect to adjust our future milestone schedules, including possibility shifting M83 forward to target an earlier branch and Stable date.

Users will remain on Chrome and Chrome OS 80 for now, but the next stable update will essentially skip two releases and land on 83.

Michael Allison