Jetpack 5.3 was released with compatibility for PHP 7.1, a task the Jetpack team has been working on since January 2017 after they received multiple reports of failures with PHP 7.1 when opcache was enabled. This interfered with XML-RPC requests and some users reported issues managing their sites from WordPress.com and connecting to third-party apps. Downgrading to PHP 7.0 or disabling opcache in PHP 7.1 provided temporary workarounds for many users but this is no longer required as of Jetpack 5.3.
In January 2017, Jetpack added integration with WordAds, WordPress.com’s advertising program. Over the past few years the program has evolved to get better at distinguishing sites with higher quality traffic and allocating earnings accordingly. This correction, along with industry-wide declining ad rates, has given publishers more modest earnings expectations after the first few years of unpredictable payouts. Jetpack 5.3 offers customers on the Premium and Professional plans more control over how ads are displayed.
This release adds the ability for publishers to display multiple ads and introduces more control options for where they can be placed. Since WordAds pays based on the number of impressions (combined with many other factors) and not the number of clicks, selecting the right combination of placement options is important for success.
Other notable changes and improvements include the following:
- Users can preview their sites without leaving WordPress.com
- WordPress.com Toolbar updated to include link to comments
- Omnisearch feature was removed
- Improved performance in the admin by cutting back on unnecessary requests
- VideoPress shortcode includes option to stop video from looping during autoplay
- Fixed compatibility issues with plugins using TinyMCE
- Re-added a filter for Widget Visibility that was accidentally removed
For a full list of all the changes included in Jetpack 5.3, check out the plugin’s changelog on WordPress.org.