For several years now, Google has wanted to replace Chrome’s extension system with a new set of programming interfaces (APIs) known as Manifest V3. It would be ok, if not for the fact that the innovation will simply destroy all popular ad blocking extensions.
Technical development of Manifest V3 ended back in January 2021, but it has not yet removed support for Manifest V2. The latter supports the chrome.webRequest API, which allows you to monitor, analyze traffic and instantly block or modify it. This allows extensions to intercept incoming network data and process/filter it before it is displayed in the browser.
Google planned to start phasing out Manifest V2 as early as January 2023, but as noticed by 9to5Google, the company now says that it has decided to postpone the transition to Manifest V3 and until next March, it is not even ready to name the schedule for turning off Manifest V2.
According to the previous version of the schedule, in January 2023 the experimental features to disable Manifest V2 were supposed to appear in the Chrome beta version, in June they would go to the stable version, and in January 2024 the Chrome Web Store was supposed to ban the Manifest V2 extension.
In the new version of the Manifest V3 migration timeline, each step is now marked as “delayed” or “pending”. So, there is no word yet on exactly when the migration should take place, but it seems that 2024 remains the target for the retirement of Manifest V2.
In his announcement of the delay, the lawyer for the developers of Chrome extensions Simeon Vincent wrote that the company had heard from developers complaining about a change in Manifest V3 that disabled the extension’s ability to run a hidden background page via background processing. Therefore, we can conclude that the delay is related to such technical points and it is unlikely that Google will change its opinion about ad blockers.
This is a completely logical step for the company, which receives the main income from the display of advertisements, including through third-party sites. So, removing ad blockers from Chrome, which is the most popular browser in the world, has its advantages for Google.
For those who do not agree with this policy of the search giant, there is always Firefox. The browser’s developers say they will migrate it to Manifest V3 with Google, but will add a WebRequest API so ad blockers can continue to work.