(Credit: Google)

Although version 69 of the Google Chrome web browser has just arrived -- with its overhauled visual design, improved "Omnibox," and custom shortcuts -- Google puts out a new version of its browser about every six weeks. Rather than saving up a bunch of big features and delivering them once or twice a year, Google prefers a rapid schedule of smaller releases, to deliver updates more quickly.

(If you haven't upgraded to Chrome 69 yet, we recommend doing so to avoid a potentially nasty network security issue.)

That means that a beta version of Chrome 70 is already upon us, and it has a few interesting additions despite the relatively short development cycle. Chief among them is the addition of fingerprint detection, specifically TouchID for Macs and Google's yet-unnamed counterpart fingerprint tech for Android.

SEE: How to beef up your Chrome and Firefox security in 2018

Both Macs and Android will plug into Google's Credential Management API within Chrome 70. In plain English, this means that websites will be able to verify your identity using your fingerprint, though it's not clear if this is intended to be used instead of a password, or in addition to one.

Google's API uses a set of public keys and private keys, which means that your actual fingerprint isn't transmitted (where it could be intercepted by the bad guys). Instead, the API creates a sort of digital ID card that's based on your fingerprint, in a way that can't be used to figure out your actual fingerprint data.

Verification comes by matching that ID card with the private fingerprint data that never leaves your device, kind of like how a bouncer at a club looks at your driver's license and checks the face of the person presenting it to them. If your face and the face on the card don't match, you don't get in. And it's a lot harder to fake a matching fingerprint than a matching face.

Not every website has support for this new feature, though.

Also in the mix is Google's Shape Detection API. Like Amazon Rekognition, this is a set of image data processing techniques that can look at an image and identify faces, objects, barcodes, and text. And Google adds, "It does this without the use of a performance-killing library."

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With this kind of API, you might be able to search through a database of images to find specific bits of information within those images, instead of having to rely on other information located on the webpage that's hosting the pics. The latter method is how search engines have use images in the past, but an API that can automatically detect people and objects within an image could make your search results both more accurate and more plentiful.

Last but not least is the upgrade to TLS 1.3. Transport Layer Security is one of the bedrocks of encryption on the Internet, safeguarding personal information and many billions of dollars in transactions every day. The new version is faster because it requires fewer checks to verify a connection, and it's more secure because it no longer supports several encryption methods that have been determined to be weak or obsolete, such as SHA-1 and MD5.

Of course, this isn't everything that's coming to Chrome 70 -- you can check out the full list of changes here.

The takeaways

  • Google has released a public beta of the next version of its Chrome browser, which it does about every six weeks.
  • The beta Chrome 70 is adding more support for fingerprint biometrics, image content detection, and secure connections.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.