Google has announced that their latest extension platform API for Chromium-based web browsers, Manifest V3 (MV3), has been delayed again, with an enterprise update expected in March 2023.
This latest development comes just one month ahead of the original January 2023 deadline, announced in early September 2022, which was due to take effect. Google seems to be unaware of this change, as a further delay until January 2024 followed in late September, but only for professional Google Chrome users.
The extensions are currently built on the Manifest V2 (MV2) API, which provides robust functionality to developers, allowing powerful privacy tools such as uBlock Origin and Decentraleyes to thrive. Google is looking to limit this functionality with MV3 by reducing the number of permissions available to developers, which it says will improve user privacy and performance.
Although Google has long maintained that it intends to support content-blocking extensions after the transition, some app developers are finding that this may not be the reality.
uBlock Origin lead developer Raymond Hill had developed an MV3-compatible version of the extension, but noted that the functionality was so reduced that there was “not much interest” in releasing it. The Register noted that complaints about functionality and privacy have also been filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Jean-Paul Schmetz, CEO of privacy suite provider Ghostery, to name a few.
However, it is also true that the transition to MV3 may have been made until now while the API was still experimental and buggy.
The registry found that Chromium’s error reporting system has a number of bugs related only to it, while the new Service Workers feature, which replaces scripts running in the background and stops and starts on the go as needed, largely fails and has been since at least November 2020.
It’s not all bad news though: users looking for a truly secure browsing experience aren’t out of options just yet.
Alternative browsers built on Chromium, the same underlying engine as Google Chrome, such as Microsoft Edge, are greatly affected by this change.