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Google looks to give Chrome a fresh coat of Material Design paint

Chrome's Material Design makeover might be part of Google's larger Material Design Refresh project, which would include more of its apps.

Published onApril 24, 2018

Google Chrome on the Google Pixel 2 XL.
  • Google is testing a Material Design refresh in the latest Canary developer builds of Chrome.
  • The redesign makes UI elements more rounded, though the changes are not significant.
  • The rounded corners fall in line with Google’s potential redesigns for other apps.

Google remains tight-lipped about its future design direction, but the company is testing a Material Design design refresh of its Chrome web browser.

According to 9to5Google, you can enable the design refresh in version 68 of Chrome Canary for Windows. Make sure to visit chrome://flags/#top-chrome-md and enable the “Material Design refresh” from the dropdown.

The design refresh features tabs that appear more rounded than before and no longer look like trapezoids. Those rounded corners might look like Firefox’s old design, but they fall in line with Google’s move toward more rounded UI elements.

Next to the rounded tabs is the “plus” button to open a new tab. If your machine runs Windows, Linux, or Chrome OS, the button is now located on the far-left. On macOS, the button remains on the far-right.

The refresh also features a rounded Omnibar that Google is also testing in the Android version of Chrome, an oval button revealed when you hover over the “Secure” lock, and the account avatar icon moved to the toolbar.

Those are all the visual changes available in Chrome Canary. However, the updated Material Design document mentions a floating effect for the Omnibar dropdown once you enter text and prompts like permission dialogs show up.

What's coming to Google I/O and how to reserve your seats

The updated Material Design document also references a “Material Design Refresh” instead of the “Material Design 2” naming that outlets used to describe Google’s potential app redesigns. All of those redesigns include plenty of rounded corners, which are evident in upcoming updates to the Google mobile app and Gmail desktop app.

We will likely have to wait until Google I/O to hear what the search giant has in mind for its Material Design Refresh project. We might also hear what other apps will get the Material Design Refresh treatment, as well as when those redesigns will be available to the masses.

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