Google Chrome is About to Get Prettier

Posted on April 24, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Google with 32 Comments

Google Chrome is About to Get Prettier

Google is planning a Material Design overhaul for the UI of its desktop web browser starting with Chrome version 68. This is a welcome change, given how old-fashioned the browser has started to look, especially in Windows 10.

You can test the look and feel—which, obviously, could change—by downloading the Canary version of Chrome for Windows and configuring a flag called “UI Layout for the browser’s top chrome” in Chrome’s experiment flags page. (Which you can find by navigating to chrome://flags/#top-chrome-md.) Change this flag to “Refresh” and restart the browser, and you’ll see the curvy new look to the tabs.

If you’re familiar with Google’s Material Design, you’ll know that this Metro-like design language has, to date, provided a more rectangular look. But Google is apparently updating Material Design to use curved corners in a coming major update, which will likely be announced at Google I/O. So its appearance in a Chrome version that will ship publicly later this year makes some sense.

Curves, whatever. I like it just because it blends better with the default Windows 10 look and feel in which there is no accent color. In Chrome today, the window has a start white title bar area regardless of whether its focused or not. But with Chrome 68, the title bar area is a nice gray color normally and a slightly lighter gray when the window is not selected. (This was one of the things I really preferred about Edge and Firebox; they just looked better.)

I had heard about this first on 9to5Google, but Neowin notes that you can enable the following other flags to complete the Material Design 2 look and feel:

chrome://flags/#secondary-ui-md
chrome://flags/#enable-message-center-new-style-notification
chrome://flags/#enable-md-bookmarks
chrome://flags/#enable-md-extensions

I’ve not tried these yet, but will do so now.

 

Tagged with

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (32)

32 responses to “Google Chrome is About to Get Prettier”

  1. madthinus

    Looks like the old look of Firefox. The new Firefox is far more prettier.

  2. Stooks

    And right after I got rid of Chrome in favor of Firefox on Windows. Oh well I guess I will miss it.

  3. rameshthanikodi

    this looks like firefox pre-quantum. It wasn't very popular with firefox users.


    I think squared-off or angular tabs are the way to go. Edge does it, Firefox Quantum does it, Office does it. Why does Chrome even need a redesign?

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      this looks like firefox pre-quantum . . .

      Not after Classic Theme Restorer (CTR) was installed and used.

      I figure the Mozilla designers were so embarrassed by the popularity of CTR that Quantum was both a full retreat from Australis and rationale for removing UI customizability from Firefox.

    • NazmusLabs

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      Yeah, I agree with you. I much prefer the quantum design. Square tabs and UI controls just look nice. Edge, Firefox, Opera (even IE) has square tabs. Only safari and chrome doesn't.


      As for the rest of the new Chrome UI, I like it. It's Just the tabs that's bothering me.

  4. ijprest

    'Prettier' is extremely subjective. I loathe Material Design in general, and I think this looks pretty awful. I've been using Chrome as my primary browser since one day after the first beta was released, but its quality has been declining recently IMO. This might be the change that pushes me to switch to Firefox or Edge.

  5. Chris_Kez

    Paul, I appreciate that you provided the comments about-- and links to-- the other sites where you'd also read about this news. Sadly there are still writers out there who do not follow these guidelines. Thanks for being one of the good ones.

  6. Tony Barrett

    I never thought Chrome looked old fashioned. Sure, a lick of paint now and again doesn't hurt, as long as it's not for the sake of it, but at least Chrome and ChromeOS have a consistent UI, unlike Win10, which is just a mash of about 4 different styles.

    • NazmusLabs

      In reply to ghostrider:

      It looks old fashioned because of a few things:


      1) This is a major Google software that didn't really fit in with Google's own material design guidelines. It just had some material design elements slapped on as an afterthought over the last few years.


      2) Google Chrome last title bar was designed for Windows 7 Aero. The default Windows 10 last white title bar just looks terrible in Chrome and blends in with the tabs. Other browsers adapt to both Windows 7's aero as well as Windows 10's theme based on the OS.


      3) No dark mode or dark more teeming support. Others browsers have native dark mode. Chrome doesn't even allow third party dark theme to theme the browser properly. A third party theme can only make some UI elements dark. But the Address Bar and menus remain bland white making it look terrible.


      So basically, it's not that the browser's UI is outdated in a major way. It's a combination of Google failing to implement its material design in the app and failing to subtly adapt to the he UI changes the underlying operating syseem has been going through and user interface trends that appeared over time.


  7. VancouverNinja

    That looks old - old/new? I would never have greenlighted that UX. Kinda looks like they are copying Edge while trying to stay different. Google is not really good at designing software in my opinion.

  8. nerdile

    Has a kind of Linux-y feel. Soft, rounded, comfortable where Edge is more hard, angular, and coloringbooky, I mean "modern". I like this design direction a lot.

  9. Jeff Jones

    Chrome doesn't look old-fashioned. What are you talking about?

    • NazmusLabs

      In reply to DataMeister:

      I will copy and paste what I wrote as a reply to another person. As a UI designer, I try to look at things objectively. You have to use other major web browsers and see how they are doing their UI to understand why Chrome's UI is dated.


      1) This is a major Google software that didn't really fit in with Google's own material design guidelines. It just had some material design elements slapped on as an afterthought over the last few years.

      2) Google Chrome last title bar was designed for Windows 7 Aero. The default Windows 10 last white title bar just looks terrible in Chrome and blends in with the tabs. Other browsers adapt to both Windows 7's aero as well as Windows 10's theme based on the OS.

      3) No dark mode or dark more teeming support. Others browsers have native dark mode. Chrome doesn't even allow third party dark theme to theme the browser properly. A third party theme can only make some UI elements dark. But the Address Bar and menus remain bland white making it look terrible.

      So basically, it's not that the browser's UI is outdated in a major way. It's a combination of Google failing to implement its material design in the app and failing to subtly adapt to the he UI changes the underlying operating syseem has been going through and user interface trends that appeared over time.

  10. Bdsrev

    They should focus on function over form, software shouldn't be about beauty, it's a tool. I don't want to notice the GUI, I want it to disappear so I can focus on what I'm doing. Edge is the best GUI at the moment

    • NazmusLabs

      In reply to Bdsrev:

      Your statement is misleading. There is no such thing as strictly form over function. To make an app functional, it must be made in a form that allows one to be the most productive as well as delighted to use the application. We are more productive and enjoy doqqing work when the environment adheres to what our brain likes, be it lighting, color, or layout. New, Modern, UI has gone flat for a reason. And it's no gimic. Notice modern animations that decelerate and accelerate vs Win7 era animations that would slide it fade at a constant velocity and stop instantly. The change in animation conforms to the natural world. All these design changes we have today are functional and not just beauty.


      We have to understand that beauty is a perception of our minds. Our minds is also what does our daily work. Keeping the mind happy with things that are beautiful will ensure increased productivity and more enjoyable work environment.


      P.S. You comment about MS Edge looking good (also applied to Firefox, which has the same UI) is a great example of how form in itself has direct effect on function.

  11. red.radar

    This ... Changes.... EVERYTHING!




    /s

  12. hrlngrv

    Oh, swell. Curved tabs like Firefox Australis from a few years ago. How original, Google.

    At least Firefox used to provide a mechanism for using square tabs instead.

    Firefox ESR for another 2 months or so, then Waterfox until it dies. Then squat all browser UI customization beyond Vivaldi's ability to move things around (but not alter their particular appearance).

    If I want minimal UI customization, I'll use Opera.

  13. kherm

    "In Chrome today, the window has a start white title bar area regardless of whether its focused or not."

    While that is true by default, if you turn on "Show accent color on Title Bars in Settings it matches your default color.

  14. Bats

    Honestly.....looks the same to me.

  15. minnefornian

    i just wish they wouldn’t have to have chrome above the tabs just for the close/minimize buttons. Those should be in line with the tabs, period.

  16. JMarco

    thanks for providing info on this new chrome look. I use chrome for most of my web browsing. Have been trying new Firefox Beta lately because it was faster/quicker than chrome pubic release. But this new chrome canary version is just as quick as Firefox Beta version.

    • Samr

      In reply to JMarco:

      I don't understand the popularity of Chrome with power users, Firefox is far more customisable, you can change anything. With Chrome you need an Addon usually.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Samr:

        . . . Firefox is far more customisable, you can change anything. . . .

        Only through version 56. Firefox 57 Quantum eliminated nearly all UI customization. FF57 and later look like rewarmed Edge.

      • Stooks

        In reply to Samr:

        100% agree. Not to mention the Firefox focus on privacy. Firefox does the little things better, example viewing a certificate or approving a self signed certificate. Both super easy in Firefox and in Chrome viewing a cert is buried in some developer mode settings and you can't accept a self-signed cert in Chrome so you must click through the BS every time.

  17. rmlounsbury

    I'm sure this won't be popular but I actually like the new look. I've always been a fan of Google's Material Design principles. I'm rolling with Chrome Canary for the moment.

Leave a Reply