The highly debated Manifest V2 extension deprecation has been in the works for a few years (since 2018!) now by Google. And it got delayed every time as the deadline approached. Well, not anymore.
In a recent announcement, Google has confirmed the resumption of its plan to deprecate Manifest V2 extensions for Google Chrome, with support set to end by mid-2024. This move will have significant implications for Chrome users who rely on various extensions to enhance their browsing experience.
Manifest V2 vs. Manifest V3
Extensions for Google Chrome currently use Manifest V2, a set of rules that dictate the capabilities and limitations of extensions. However, Google is transitioning to Manifest V3, an updated version that brings about substantial changes. Notably, these modifications impact certain types of extensions, with content blockers like uBlock Origin facing negative consequences.
While Google maintains that the alterations are not aimed at restricting content blockers, the company claims that they are designed to enhance privacy and security. The move aligns with Google’s recent efforts on YouTube to combat ad blockers, signalling a broader initiative to ensure a secure and controlled browsing environment.
David Li, a product manager at Google, announced on the Chrome Developer blog that the transition to Manifest V3 will begin affecting the development editions of Google Chrome from June 2024 onward. The change will be gradually implemented across the entire development edition user base, allowing Google to monitor the impact and gather user feedback.
For Linux users (and others), this means that installed Manifest V2 extensions will be disabled, and the installation of new Manifest V2 extensions will be prohibited once the change takes effect. Additionally, Manifest V2 extensions will lose their featured badge on the Chrome Web Store.
Google anticipates at least a month of monitoring and feedback collection before rolling out the changes to stable versions of the Chrome browser. Consequently, users on Chrome Stable may experience the disabling of Manifest V2 extensions as early as July 2024.
Recognizing the diverse user base, Google allows enterprise customers to extend support for Manifest V2 extensions until June 2025 by setting the ExtensionManifestV2Availability. This move provides additional time for enterprise users to adapt to the changes seamlessly.
Why Manifest V3?
Despite the pause in the transition, Google claims to have improved Manifest V3 in various areas, including offscreen documents support, better control over Service Worker Lifetimes, User Scripts API, and enhanced content filtering support. These improvements aim to provide a more robust and versatile framework for developers and users alike.
The shift to Manifest V3 will undoubtedly affect numerous Chrome extensions, including popular choices like uBlock Origin. In response, developers may need to adapt or create alternative versions compatible with Manifest V3. For instance, the developer of uBlock Origin has introduced uBlock Origin Lite, a streamlined version designed to function seamlessly under Manifest V3. However, as per recent notes on Reddit, the uBlock Origin Lite is not even capable of handling various custom scripts and adblocks – which V3 won’t let developers implement by design.
While Google is making changes to its extension framework, other web browsers like Mozilla Firefox will continue to support both Manifest V2 and Manifest V3 extensions. This ensures that if you transition to Firefox, then you may not be impacted at all.
Stay tuned for further updates on this as we approach the changes that arrive at Chrome dev builds.