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Extension management enhancements coming to Chrome

There is no doubt that extensions are extremely important to getting work done in Chrome. Extensions offer a wide range of extra functionality so that you can perform tasks more easily and your business can get more out of the web. With organizations turning to a distributed workforce – whether that’s remote, a hybrid approach or back in the office – extensions are a great way to customize Chrome to support end users’ productivity.  

However we understand that extension management can be a headache for some IT admins due to a lack of visibility into which extensions are being deployed by employees and what permissions the extensions require. 

We’re excited to announce that we have launched new features (and have more coming) which make it easier to manage extensions and give you increased visibility into extension usage, thereby enabling you to make better, data-driven decisions for your business. 

With these new capabilities you can:

Allow end users to request extensions

For admins that manage Chrome through Admin Console, you can now allow end-users to request an extension to be installed.  When an end user on a managed browser or managed Chrome OS device goes to the Chrome Web Store, instead of seeing an “Add to Chrome” button, they will see a “Request” button.  The requested extension will appear in the Admin Console in the Requests page in Chrome Browser Cloud Management. Once an IT admin or security admin has reviewed the request and approved it, the end user can then add it to Chrome. 

This is a great way for admins to review extensions before installation and has been widely requested by admins in the finance, healthcare, government, and education sectors! Learn how to enable this feature in our help center.  Based on feedback from early customers we will be adding email alerts to this feature in the future.

Pin priority extensions to your end users’ toolbars

Nowadays, there are so many tips and tricks on how to best be productive during the workday, and IT is a huge component in enabling end user productivity.  Employees love using extensions and admins appreciate the ability to select which extensions appear in the browser toolbar.  This allows admins to standardize their employees’ user experience and that standardization can help reduce time that IT spends on troubleshooting the browser. This is similar to the managed bookmarks feature we launched earlier this year!

Build auditing workflows and get app information using a new API

For organizations using hundreds or thousands of extensions, it is now easier to get more information on installed extensions via the new App Details API. This new API enables admins to get detailed information about a specified app to help manage risk associated with their extensions programmatically, build auditing workflows and support organisations’ risk management efforts.  

Get more insight on the extensions in your deployment 

Disclaimer: This feature is in progress, the final design in Trusted Tester may be slightly different.

Earlier this year, we released the Apps & Extensions report that gives IT visibility into all installed extensions, Chrome apps, and Android apps across their deployment. Versions and permissions are available per app or extension, and you can force install or block apps directly through the report. We’ve now added even more extension details to the report!

You can click into a specific extension to get information like the extension identifier, a link to the Chrome Web Store listing for the extension, and you can also click to view the privacy policy of the individual extension to make sure it complies with your organizations’ requirements. And the piece I think admins will be most excited about is that you can see the requested permissions and if they have access to user data to quickly estimate if an extension should be allowed for your employees. This is extremely helpful in supporting your organization’s compliance needs and knowing more about the apps your users rely on to be productive in the browser.  If you are interested in this feature, sign up to become a Trusted Tester

Pin specific extension versions 

Admins will now have the ability to pin extensions to specific versions.  As a result, the pinned extensions will not be upgraded unless the admin explicitly changes the version.  If you are interested in this feature please sign up to become a Trusted Tester! Note: this is currently only available to Trusted Testers for User Sessions and Managed Guest Sessions.

Have more trust in your extensions

Earlier this year, the Chrome Web Store started accepting Manifest V3 extensions, a new version of the extensions platform that makes extensions more secure, performant, and private-respecting by default. This improves security across the board for extensions in the Chrome Web Store and provides a foundation for giving you greater control over your data. Note: We currently do not have a timeline for when support for Manifest V2 will be going away, but we encourage all our developers to start the migration process sooner than later.  

If you’re already using Chrome Browser Cloud Management or have managed Chrome OS devices, head to the Google Admin Console to start using these new features. If you’d like to learn more about Chrome Browser Cloud Management, please start here.  We have more management and security enhancements coming later this year, so stay tuned and be on the lookout for what’s next from Chrome! 

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