In a recent blog post, Google announced it would restrict some Chrome-specific features, like sync and ‘Click to Call,’ that found their way into third-party Chromium browsers.
For those unfamiliar with Chromium, it’s an open-source browser project largely managed by Google. Chromium forms the foundation for Google’s Chrome browser, as well as a variety of other browsers including Microsoft’s new Edge, Brave, Vivaldi and more. Chromium is also available as a browser on its own, although it relies on several Google services for features like Safe Browsing.
“During a recent audit, we discovered that some third-party Chromium based browsers were able to integrate Google features, such as Chrome sync and Click to Call, that are only intended for Google’s use,” Google explained in the blog post.
“This meant that a small fraction of users could sign into their Google Account and store their personal Chrome sync data, such as bookmarks, not just with Google Chrome, but also with some third-party Chromium based browsers.”
Starting March 15th, Google says it will restrict access to these features for third-party browsers. It’s worth noting the change won’t impact any user data, since it’s stored in the cloud. However, it will prevent new data from syncing through the feature for users of third-party browsers.
However, Google didn’t say which browsers were using Chrome sync. Most major Chromium-based browsers replace Chrome sync with their own sync features. For example, Edge syncs data through a Microsoft account, while Brave uses a more privacy-oriented QR code system to sync data between browsers.
Android Police also points out that Google made a similar change to third-party browsers on Android back in 2017.