Due to its large user base, Google rarely makes major changes to its browser interface. However, there is one redesign plan in development to “update” the Chrome Omnibox on Android, and the end result looks a lot like the Pixel Launcher.
Update 12/10: Since September, Google has been working on redesigning the address bar and is now A/B testing on a larger scale. One of my devices received it normally in the current stable version (Chrome 108), while it’s also in beta (v109). The company hasn’t committed to a launch, but wide availability is a good sign.
After using it for the past few days, I’m struck by how much it looks like the unified Pixel Launcher that just rolled out with Android 13 QPR1. The similarity can be quite annoying, and I thought I had navigated to the wrong screen.
LR: Pixel Launcher, the current Chrome, the new Chrome
The search fields, which have no boxes, feature a color version of the “G” logo and volume/lens shortcuts on the right. The menu layout is also identical, with an icon on the left and an arrow on the other side.
Original 9/22: When Chrome launched in 2008, a signature aspect of the design was that there was only one field for entering/displaying URLs and searching the web. Google calls this box the Omnibox, and in recent years has worked to make it even more useful by adding Chrome Actions that link to the main browser settings. This joins with how the box already displays quick answers to select queries and images.
Since Chrome is at least 105 (currently stable), there is a flag called “Omnibox update visualization”. only available for Android, chrome://flags/#omnibox-modernize-visual-update “It will display a new user interface that is visually refreshed.”
Chrome 108 (Canary) offers the most advanced design with three “enabled” variants in addition to the global option.
The current design is a very clear list of URLs and search suggestions. This doesn’t really change with regeneration, but each hit is placed in a card (with a dark background) to help items stand out. In addition, the top and bottom cards feature rounded corners. This design is somewhat reminiscent of the unified Pixel Launcher found in Android 13 QPR1 Beta. Consistency is an interesting approach.
Meanwhile, the “No active multicolored square” variant/flag interestingly removes the pill-shaped container for a look that truly mimics Pixel Launcher’s search.
In the description, Google specifically says that “This tag is for Step 1 in the Clank Omnibox Renewal Plan.” It is highly suggested that Google has planned more which may also affect the functionality of the omnibox.
As with all tags, Chrome for Android’s omnibox redesign may not actually work. However, this is not a visual departure from the Chrome Duplex / Duet, so the possibilities are definitely better.
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Thanks RKBDI and Michael!
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