Over the past year, Google Chrome has been implementing a multi-phase plan to de-emphasize Adobe Flash. Rolling out now to Mac, Windows, and Linux, Chrome 55 will take the major step of defaulting to HTML5 on the majority of sites.
In September with version 53, Chrome blocked Flash-based page analytics and other background elements. A version later Chrome began rewriting embedded YouTube Flash players to use HTML5. Taken together these changes improve security, reduce power consumption, and lead to faster load times.
Chrome 55 takes the larger and more user-facing step of defaulting to HTML5. Sites that only support Flash are exempted, as are the top 10 sites on the web for a year:
YouTube.com, Facebook.com, Yahoo.com, VK.com, Live.com, Yandex.ru, OK.ru, Twitch.tv, Amazon.com, and Mail.ru.
On all other sites, users will be prompted to enable Flash the first time they visit. Besides a better overall web experience for all, the hope is that this change will pressure publishers to convert over so that users don’t have to make that decision.
Besides the usual bug and security fixes, the addition of CSS automatic hyphenation will allow the browser to hyphenate words when line-wrapping, thus improving the visual consistency of text blocks.
On Android, version 55 will widely rollout a downloads feature for offline viewing of pages, videos, and images. Media controls will now display a button indicating when a file can be saved. Another new feature grants sites placed on the homescreen automatic persistent storage that prevents automatic clearing.
Chrome 55 for desktop is rolling out now, with updates for Chrome on Android and Chrome OS following shortly.