Given the large user base, Google rarely make major changes to your browser interface. However, a redesign in the works plans to “modernize” the Chrome Omnibox on Android, and the end result looks a lot like the Pixel Launcher.
Update 12/10: Since September, Google’s work on redesigning the address bar has continued and it is now undergoing more extensive A/B testing. One of my devices naturally received it in the current stable version (chrome 108), while it is also available in beta version (version 109). The company hasn’t committed to the release, but the wider availability is a good indication.
After using it for the past few days, I’m amazed at how much it resembles the Pixel Launcher unified search that was just rolled out with Android 13QPR1. The similarity can be quite jarring, and I thought I navigated to the wrong screen.
LR: Pixel Launcher, Current Chrome, New Chrome
The search fields, which do not have boxes, feature a colorful version of the “G” logo and Voice/Lens shortcuts to the right. The list layout is also identical with an icon on the left and an arrow on the other side.
Originally 9/22: When Chrome was released in 2008, a distinctive aspect of the design was that there was only one field for entering/viewing URLs and searching the web. Google called it the Omnibox and in recent years has been working to make it more useful by adding “chrome actions” linking to key browser settings. This is in addition to how the box already shows quick responses to select queries and images.
Since at least Chrome 105 (currently stable), there is a flag called “Omnibox Modernize Visual Update”. Available for Android, chrome://flags/#omnibox-modernize-visual-update “It will show a new user interface that is updated visually.”
chrome 108 (Canary) offers the most evolved design with three “Enabled” variants in addition to the general option.
The existing layout is a very simple list of URLs and search suggestions. That doesn’t really change with the revamp, but each result is placed on a card (with a darker background) to help distinguish items. Also, the top and bottom cards have rounded corners. This design is quite reminiscent of Pixel Launcher unified search that is live on Android 13 QPR1 Beta. Consistency is an interesting approach.
Meanwhile, the “no active color omnibox” variant/flag interestingly removes the pill-shaped container for a look that truly mimics Pixel Launcher’s search.
In the description, Google says in particular that “this flag is for step 1 in the Clank Omnibox revamp plan.” It strongly suggests that Google has more plans that could also affect the functionality of Omnibox.
As with all flags, this Omnibox redesign in Chrome for Android may not launch. That said, it’s less of a visual outlet than duplex/duo chromeso the odds are definitely better.
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Thanks RKBDI and Michael!
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