Google to Make Chrome ‘More Helpful’ With New Machine Learning Additions

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(Photo: PCMag)In a new blog post, Google says it’s going to be bringing new features to Chrome via “on device” machine learning (ML). The goal is to improve the browsing experience, and to do so it’s adding several new ML models that will focus on different tasks. Google’s says it’ll begin addressing how “web notifications” are handled, and that it also has ideas for an adaptive tool bar. These new features will lead to a “safer, more accessible and more personalized browsing experience” according to Google. Also, since the models run (and stay) on your device instead of in the cloud, it’s theoretically better for your privacy.

First there’s web notifications, which we take to mean this kind of stuff. Things like “sign up for our newsletter,” for example. Google says these are “update from sites you care about,” but adds that too many of them are a nuisance. It says in an upcoming version of Chrome, the on-device ML will examine how you interact with notifications. If it finds you are denying permission to certain types of notification requests, it will silence similar ones in the future. If a notification is silenced automatically, Chrome will still add a notification for it, shown below. This would seemingly allow you to override Google’s prediction.

Google also wants Chrome to change what the tool bar does based on your past behavior. For example, it says some people like to use voice search in the morning on their train commute (this person sounds annoying). Other people routinely share links. In both of these situations, Chrome would anticipate your needs and add either a microphone button or “share” icon in the tool bar, making the process easier. You’ll be able to customize it manually as well. The screenshots provided note they’re from “Chrome on Android.” It’s unclear if this functionality will appear on other platforms.

In addition to these new features, Google is also touting the work machine learning is already doing for Chrome users. For example, when you arrive at a web page it’s scanned and compared to a database of known phishing/malicious sites. If there’s a match it gives you a warning, and you’ve probably seen this once or twice already. It’s a full-page, all-red page block, so you’d know it if you’ve seen it. Google says it rolled out new ML models in March of this year that increased the number of malicious sites it could detect by 2.5X.

Google doesn’t specify when these new features will launch, nor does it say if they will be mobile-only. All we know is the silence notifications will appear in “the next release” of Chrome. According to our browser, version 102 is the current one. For the adaptive tool bar, it says that will arrive “in the near future.” It’s also unclear if running these models on-device will incur some type of performance hit.

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