It's difficult to imagine life without Chrome Extensions in today's fast-paced world. They help us do everything from keeping tabs on our email to managing our schedules. But are they really here to stay, or will Google potentially shut down the chrome store and get rid of chrome extensions for good?
It's an important question as software developers don't want to invest time and energy into building something that might not be used in the future.
Let's take a closer look at the rise of chrome extensions and whether they are a safe bet to be around in the future.
Here are the topics I'll be touching on in this article:
- The Rise of Chrome Extensions
- What Do Users Love About Chrome Extensions?
- Are Chrome Extensions safe and secure?
- Chrome Extensions are part of the browser extension family
- Introducing the WebExtensions Community Group
- Are Chrome Extensions Here to Stay?
- How to get started building your own chrome extension
Chrome extensions first came onto the scene in 2010, quickly gaining popularity due to their ability to improve users' web browsing experience. According to Statista, there are now more than 200,000 extensions available for download in the Google Chrome store. That number is only expected to grow in the years to come as more and more developers create new extensions to meet the needs of users.
What's more, extensions are not just limited to Google Chrome. Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari all have their own extension stores with a variety of different plugins available for download. This shows that there is a demand for browser extensions beyond just Google Chrome users.
There are a few key reasons why chrome extensions have become so popular. First, they are easy to install and use. Second, they are relatively cheap (or even free) compared to other software applications. And lastly, they offer an incredible level of customization that can delight the end user.
Customization is a big deal for users because it allows them to tailor their web browsing experience specifically to their needs.
For example, if you're a student who needs to keep track of assignments and deadlines, you can install a chrome extension that will help you do just that. Or, if you're a busy professional who struggles to stay organized, dozens of chrome extensions can help with that as well. The bottom line is that there is an extension out there for just about everyone.
While most browser extensions are safe to use, there have been a few instances where malicious ones have slipped through the cracks. In 2015, for example, a fake ad-blocker extension was discovered that was actually injecting ads into users' web pages. And in 2018, there was a case of a fake cryptocurrency extension that was stealing users' private information.
Thankfully, Google has implemented measures to prevent malicious extensions from being published in the Chrome store. But even with these safeguards, it's essential for users to be aware of the risks before installing any extension.
Google is constantly working to improve the security of its Chrome browser, and the recently released manifest v3 is no exception. This new version of the manifest introduces several new security measures, including low levels of permissions by default.
With manifest v3, Google is aiming to make it easier for developers to create safe and secure extensions. By requiring fewer permissions upfront, malicious extensions will have a harder time gaining a foothold in the Chrome store. And by automatically denying certain permissions (such as access to user data), developers will have to explicitly request access to sensitive information, making it less likely that they will do so maliciously.
Chrome Extensions are not coded completely separately to other browser extensions such as Firefox and Edge extensions. In fact, Chrome extensions can usually be ported to work with Firefox and Chromium-based browsers' extension API (like Edge, Opera & Vivaldi) with just a few minor adjustments.
That's due to them sharing a common set of extension models and APIs supported by Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Safari as a base.
Google is a member of the WebExtensions Community Group, which was established alongside Apple, Microsoft, and Mozilla to develop a standard for identifying comparable ground, bringing implementations closer together, and charting a path forward for future growth.
This group's mission is to make it simpler for developers to extend the platform by defining a standard architecture and core features, APIs, and permissions. Furthermore, they'll be proposing an improved performance framework that is even more secure and resistant to misuse.
The simple answer is yes!
There is no indication that chrome extensions are going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, as more and more people become familiar with them and begin using them regularly, we'll likely see even more growth in this area. So if you had concerns about spending your time developing a chrome extension, now might be the time to start!
Don't worry, I've got your back!
As a successful chrome extension developer (5+ years experience) with multiple six figures in subscription earnings and even more when I sold my chrome extensions I've put together a guide on chrome extension development.
You can learn more about developing chrome extensions by reading my Ultimate Guide To Developing Chrome Extensions: Everything You Need to Know.