Google today announced a set of new and updated security features for Chrome, almost all of which rely on machine learning (ML) models, along with some nifty new ML-based features that aim to make web browsing a bit easier, including a new feature that will suppress notification permission prompts when its algorithm thinks you’re unlikely to accept them.
Starting with the next version of Chrome, Google will introduce a new ML model that will silence many of these notification permission prompts. And the sooner the better. At this point, they have mostly become a nuisance. While there are some sites – and these are mostly news sites – that can offer some value in their notifications, I can’t remember the last time I accepted one on purpose. Also, while legitimate sites like to send web notifications to remind readers of their existence, attackers can also use them to send phishing attacks or prompt users to download malware if they get users they give them permission.
“On the one hand, page notifications help deliver updates from sites that interest you; on the other hand, notification permission prompts can become a nuisance,” Google admits in its blog post today. The company’s new ML model will now look for prompts that users are likely to ignore and automatically block them. And as a bonus, it all happens on your local machine, so none of your browsing data ends up on Google’s servers.
On the security side, Google announced today that it has quietly rolled out an update to the ML model that powers its Safe Browsing service. This new model identifies 2.5 times more malicious sites and phishing attacks than the previous model.
As for other new ML-based features, Chrome also has a new language identification model that helps to better determine what language a given page is in and whether it needs to be translated based on your personal preferences.
Meanwhile, in the near future, Chrome will adjust its toolbar according to your current needs. It will learn that you usually share a lot of links in the morning, for example, and highlight the share prompt then, while later in the day while you are using transit, it will show the voice prompt icon because it learned that you often use this feature then (by the way, did you know that you can long press the shortcut in Chrome mobile to change it manually?)
“Our goal is to create a browser that is truly and continually useful, and we’re excited about the possibilities that ML offers,” says Google.