Google is making Chrome notifications less annoying

Distracting alerts should become a thing of the past.

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Notifications in Chrome are intended to make websites function more like native apps, with important alerts appearing even when you don’t have a site open. The problem is that these requests can disrupt the browsing experience because they must be addressed to continue. Google wants to fix this by blocking such requests when it knows they’re unlikely to be welcomed by users.

According to Google, notifications requests will be blocked for browser users who typically deny them, and for sites that have very low opt-in rates for their notifications. In a blog post, the company demonstrates that the new “quiet UI” will function in a similar way to how Chrome already blocks annoying pop-ups. Sites with a poor reputation will be limited to a small dialog box in the navigation bar, alerting users to their request to enable notifications. Websites that see lots of users opt-in to their notifications won’t suffer this fate and will be able to send captive notifications as before.

Sites like Facebook and CNN ask Chrome users to enable notifications so they can be alerted to relevant events, like new friend requests and breaking news alerts. Enabling notifications helps re-engage visitors after they’ve left a site, so you can imagine why websites want people doing so. Disabling notifications for specific sites also isn't as easy as it should be.

Google drives web standards in several ways — Anyone who lived on the internet in the early aughts will remember when opening a link to a nefarious website could lead to a flood of spammy pop-up dialogs that were hard to dismiss. Nowadays that doesn’t happen as much thanks to companies like Google, which have introduced browser-level protections like today’s update. Google has done other things in its browser to make navigating the web less frustrating, like blocking Flash content by default, which was notoriously slow and caused sites to hang while loading. The company also downranks sites in its search engine when it finds them to offer a particularly poor browsing experience.

The combined efforts give Google a lot of power over how sites across the web function, a fact with its own downsides considering Chrome's tight grip on the browser market. Critics also point to the way in which Google uses Chrome to advance its interests in advertising and data collection as a problem.

Google says that users interested in the new quiet notifications will have to opt-in to it for now, but soon all users of Chrome will see the feature enabled by default.