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article imageChrome's radical new Android UI gets a step closer to release

By James Walker     Jun 16, 2017 in Technology
Google has started to roll out a major redesign of Chrome's interface on Android phones. It features a new navigation bar that's moved to the bottom of the display. Called "Chrome Home," it's available now in the latest version of the Chrome Dev app.
Google has been testing the interface in Chrome Dev for a few months already. Previously, it was hidden by a developer mode flag though. As Ars Technica reports, the design has now rolled out widely so it's enabled by default within the app. This strongly suggests that it is nearly complete and could soon be available in the release version of Chrome for Android.
The main change is the repositioned navigation bar at the bottom of the display. This makes the browser substantially easier to use on the large phablet-sized devices that form the bulk of modern Android smartphone sales. Typing in the address bar, switching tabs and opening Chrome's menu will be more usable with one hand.
There's more to the update than just a repositioned navigation strip though. Google has added a new icon next to the tabs button. When you tap the "expand" button, represented as an up arrow, a completely new interface will appear that gives you access to commonly accessed panes of the main Chrome menu.
It's called Chrome Home and it consists of four card-based tabs. Like the rest of the update, everything sits at the bottom of the display. The four different sections, Home, Downloads, Bookmarks and History, look similar to the tab strip present in iOS apps for the iPhone. The interface only uses the bottom half of the display, again making it usable with one hand and keeping the top of your current tab within view.
The most notable part of Chrome Home is the Home tab itself. It's an entirely new part of the browser that comprises an address bar, shortcuts to your regularly accessed bookmarks and a list of popular news articles from around the web. The interface will pop-up automatically each time you open a new tab, letting you jump straight to one of your favourite sites or a new story.
The new design is available now when you're using the Chrome Dev channel on Android devices. It's also usable in Chrome Beta but it's still hidden by a development flag. To enable it on the beta channel of the app, navigate to chrome://flags in the address bar and turn on the Chrome Home flag.
Although Google hasn’t publicly announced the revised interface, its promotion to being enabled by default indicates a wider launch shouldn't be too far off. The changes are significant but they should make the browser easier to use, particularly for people who prefer larger phones.
The company is likely to be collecting the final feedback from users and patching any lingering bug reports before making the update official later in the year. The Chrome Home interface should come to iOS devices too as Google usually maintains feature parity between its mobile versions. There's currently no way of accessing the feature on iOS devices though.
More about Google, Google chrome, chrome dev, Android, Web browsers
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