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RIP uBlock Origin? Google continues its plan to shake up Chrome extensions

If you’re a fan of ad blockers, get ready for a change: Google is resuming its plan to phase out old Chrome extensions, including uBlock Origin.

The phase-out will begin in June 2024, when Google begins disabling older Chrome extensions built with the “Manifest V2” system. “Users affected by the rollout will have Manifest V2 extensions automatically disabled in their browser and will no longer be able to install Manifest V2 extensions from the Chrome Web Store,” the company says.

For now, the phaseout will only cover Manifest V2 extensions installed on beta versions of Chrome, including Dev and Canary versions. Google hasn’t said when it will start disabling Manifest V2 extensions in the stable version of Chrome.

Google adds: “We will roll out this change gradually, collecting user feedback and collecting data to ensure Chrome users understand the change and the actions they can take to find alternative, up-to-date extensions. »

Chrome extensions

(Credit: Google)

Still, the news raises concerns among fans of uBlock Origin on Chrome. “By disabling MV2 support, Google will serve even more ads.” tweeted Tuta, the encrypted messaging provider.

For years, Google has been trying to remove Manifest V2 in favor of Manifest V3, designed to provide better security for Chrome extensions. But this effort has been met with resistance from ad-blocking providers since Manifest V3 can also restrict access to content filtering on the Chrome browser.

A year ago, Google decided to stop removing Manifest V2 following complaints from developers. But on Thursday, the company announced that it would resume phasing out, except this time with several improvements made to Manifest V3. This includes “improving support for content filtering by providing more generous limits in the declarativeNetRequest API for static rule sets and dynamic rules.”

The ongoing changes have received a positive response from ad blocking provider AdGuard. Earlier this month, AdGuard CTO Andrey Meshkov discussed Google’s progress on V3, noting that the company had listened to and incorporated feedback from third-party developers. “Despite losing a small part of their functionality, ad blockers will still be able to offer almost the same quality of filtering that they demonstrated with Manifest V2,” Meshkov said.

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“In short: we are not yet done with our work, but there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. The prototype of the MV3 blocker already presents good filtering quality,” he added.

The uBlock Origin developers have also created a version of the software designed to work with Manifest V3. The ad blocker will therefore not be dead on Chrome. Called uBlock Origin Lite, the expansion has received positive reviews so far. Nevertheless, there is still debate whether the Manifest V3 edition of uBlock Origin will offer the same quality as the original.

uBlock Origin developer Raymond Hill also rang on Twitter, suggesting that the lite version of the ad blocker may not fully match the original extension.

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