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Google will kill Chrome sync support on Chrome 48 and earlier
Google will end support for the Chrome sync feature for all users still running Google Chrome 48 and earlier after Chrome 96 reaches the stable channel.
When enabled, Chrome sync will keep the users’ bookmarks, passwords, history, open tabs, settings, preferences, and, in some cases, Google Pay payment info. It also automatically signs them into Gmail, YouTube, Search, and other Google services.
The move was previously announced on the company’s enterprise blog, with the release notes for Chrome 94 published last month, on October 19.
“Chrome sync no longer supports Chrome 48 and earlier. You need to upgrade to a more recent version of Chrome if you want to continue using Chrome sync,” Google said at the time.
“As previously shared in the Chrome Enterprise release notes for M94, we’d like to inform anyone using Chrome Browser version M48 or lower that Chrome sync will be deprecated on these versions, and will no longer work once M96 launches on the stable channel,” the company announced on Friday.
Those who want to continue using Chrome sync will have to update their web browsers to Chrome version 49 or higher by opening Chrome, opening the ‘More’ menu at the top right side of the window, and then clicking ‘Update Google Chrome.’ The update will be applied after restarting Chrome.
While Google says that updating to Chrome 49 will be sufficient to ensure that Chrome sync still works, updating will likely mean that most users will probably be switched to the latest available version on their update channel, which comes with the latest security updates.
Right now, Google Chrome has 64.67% of the worldwide desktop browser market share and 67.17% on the desktop, according to StatCounter data.
W3Schools stats also show that most users run Chrome 94 and 95, with versions older than Chrome 85, summing up to around 2.5% of Chrome’s total market share.
Even so, considering Google’s dominance on the browser market, that could still amount to a significant number of customers being exposed to attacks because they’re using deprecated and vulnerable Chrome versions.
The headline for dropping support for Chrome sync in Chrome 48 and older shouldn’t be about forcing users to upgrade, but about how mindboggling it is that anybody would chose to run a version with more known security bugs than I can count.
The choice to move to third-party Chromium web browsers that might still have support for Chrome sync is also off the table.
Google announced in January that it would block them using private Google APIs (including Chrome sync) after discovering that they were integrating them although they were intended to be used only in Chrome.
“During a recent audit, we discovered that some third-party Chromium-based browsers were able to integrate Google features, such as Chrome sync and Click to Call, that are only intended for Google’s use,” Google Chrome Engineering Director Jochen Eisinger said at the time.
“This meant that a small fraction of users could sign into their Google Account and store their personal Chrome sync data, such as bookmarks, not just with Google Chrome, but also with some third-party Chromium-based browsers.”
Those who have used Chrome sync in the past with other Chromium browsers can still manage their data by going to the My Google Activity page, downloading it from the Google Takeout page, and/or deleting it by going here.
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