Given the large user base, Google rarely makes major changes to the interface of his browser. However, a redesign in development plans to “modernize” the Chrome Omnibox on Android, and the end result looks very similar to the Pixel Launcher.
update 10.12: Since September, Google’s work on redesigning the address bar has continued and it’s now undergoing more extensive A/B testing. Of course, one of my devices has it updated to the current stable version (chrome 108) while it’s also live in beta (version 109). The company hasn’t committed to the launch, but the wider availability is a good indication.
Having used it for the past few days, I’m impressed by how closely it resembles the unified Pixel Launcher search that just launched it Android 13 QPR1. The resemblance can be quite confusing and I thought I had navigated to the wrong screen.
LR: Pixel Launcher, Chrome updated, Chrome new
The unchecked search fields have a colored version of the “G” logo and voice/lens shortcuts on the right. The list layout is also identical with an icon on the left and an arrow on the other.
Original from 22.9: When Chrome was launched in 2008, a distinctive aspect of the design was that there was only one field for entering/displaying URLs and browsing the web. Google dubbed this Omnibox and has been working to make it more helpful for the past few years by adding “Chrome Actions” this link to the most important browser settings. In addition, the box already shows quick answers to selected questions and images.
Since at least Chrome 105 (currently in Stable) there has been a flag called “Omnibox Modernize Visual Update”. Only available for Android, chrome://flags/#omnibox-modernize-visual-update “Shows a new user interface that is visually updated.”
Chrome 108 (canaries) offers the most advanced design with three “Enabled” variants in addition to the general option.
The existing design is a very simple list of URLs and search suggestions. That doesn’t really change with the rework, but each result is placed on a card (with a darker background) to make it easier to distinguish the elements. Also, the top and bottom cards have rounded corners. This design is more reminiscent of the Unified Pixel Launcher quest this is live in the Android 13 QPR1 Beta. Consistency is an interesting approach.
Meanwhile, interestingly, the “No Active Color Omnibox” variant/flag removes the pill-shaped container for a look that truly mimics the Pixel Launcher quest.
Specifically, in the description, Google says that “this flag is for step 1 in the Clank Omnibox overhaul plan.” It strongly suggests that Google has more planned, which could also affect Omnibox functionality.
As with all flags, this omnibox redesign might not really launch in Chrome for Android. That said, it’s less of a visual aberration than Chrome duplex/duetso the odds are definitely better.
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Thank you RKBDI and Michael!
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