Google’s Chrome desktop browser is about to receive a major facelift

google chrome canary build sports material design ui

If you subscribe to Google’s nightly build of Chrome “Canary,” the latest release for Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS now sports a much-needed facelift thanks to the new Material Design user interface. The new look is set as the default, providing enhancements to the boring outdated Chrome design with a rounded address bar, rounded and colored browser tabs, and new omnibox suggestion icons.

“MacOS users can set experimental flags chrome://flags/#top-chrome-md to ‘Refresh’ and enable chrome://flags/#views-browser-windows to try it out now,” says Google evangelist François Beaufort. “Note that it’s still being actively developed and that you may stumble upon bugs.”

Material Design is a design language introduced by Google in 2014. It’s based on the “card” layout used in Google Now that borrows from traditional real-world paper and ink designs. It attempts to emulate physical substrates in a virtual environment, rendering crisp edges and shadows that give depth. Material Design infiltrated Android 5.0 and is slowly becoming the default visual design across all Google apps and services.

“Material Design is guided by print design methods — typography, grids, space, scale, color, and imagery — to create hierarchy, meaning, and focus that immerse viewers in the experience,” Google says. “Material Design is inspired by the physical world and its textures, including how they reflect light and cast shadows. Material surfaces reimagine the mediums of paper and ink.”

The user interface for Google’s Chrome browser has remained mostly unchanged for many years. You can alter its appearance to some degree by downloading and installing themes from the Chrome Web Store, but they merely change the background colors of the Start page, toolbar, tabs, and so on.

The fact that the Material Design user interface is now appearing in Chrome Canary means Google is making progress on getting the new interface into a stable build. If you’re curious to see what Material Design is about, be warned: Chrome Canary isn’t a stable version of Google’s browser. It’s a nightly build that has yet to be thoroughly tested, introducing new features along with potential show-stopping bugs.

But also keep in mind that Material Design is an ongoing project thus aspects of Chrome may change based on feedback until the user interface is ready for primetime. Google supposedly made major changes to Material Design earlier this year to support a tool called “Material Theming” for designing interfaces. Gmail’s redesign on the web was part of that overhaul to the design platform.

Google is expected to make Material Design the default user interface in the stable version of Chrome on September 2, the browser’s birthday. That means the new interface must survive the design changes in the Canary, Developer and Beta channels before it goes mainstream in less than two months. We shall see if Google succeeds in making that anniversary deadline.

Product Review

Google’s third HD Chromecast is still a good streamer, but its value is slipping

At Google’s October event, we saw a slew of new products, but the new third-generation Chromecast didn’t even make it onstage. We spent some time with the incrementally upgraded, third-generation HD Chromecast to see if it’s worth…
Computing

Google Chrome 70 is finally getting a picture-in-picture mode

Picture-in-picture mode is finally coming to Google Chrome 70 on Mac, Linux, and Windows. The feature not only applies to YouTube but also any other website where developers have chosen to implement it.
Computing

Chrome 70 is now available and won’t automatically log you in to the browser

Google has officially launched Chrome version 70 on Windows Mac and Linux. The update introduces some new Progressive Web App integrations on Windows 10 and also tweaks the much controversial auto login with Google Account feature.
Computing

Is the Pixelbook 2 still happening? Here's everything we know so far

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Has the Pixel Slate taken its place? Google hasn't announced it, but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.
Computing

Core i9s and Threadrippers are all powerful, but should you go AMD or Intel?

The battle for the top prosumer CPUs in the world is on. In this head to head, we pit the Core i9 versus the Threadripper to see which is the best when it comes to maximizing multi-core performance on a single chip.
Computing

Despite serious security flaws, D-Link will (again) not patch some routers

D-Link revealed that it won't patch six router models despite warnings raised by a security researcher. The manufacturer, for the second time in a span of about a year, cited end-of-life policies for its decision to not act.
Product Review

Dell’s G3 Gaming laptop knows what gamers want, and what they can live without

Compromise and budget gaming laptops go hand-in-hand, but with the G3, Dell has figured out how to balance what gamers want with what they can live without.
Computing

Apple’s latest feature ensures MacOS apps are safer than ever

MacOS is mythically known for being more immune to viruses than Windows, but that doesn't mean there isn't room to make it safer. Apple is using an app notarization feature to protect users from downloading malicious apps.
Computing

There’s now proof that quantum computing is superior to the classical variety

For the first time in computer science history, researchers have tangibly demonstrated how a quantum computer is better than a classical computer. A quantum computer was able to solve a math problem that a classical PC cannot.
Computing

In 2018, the rivalry between AMD and Intel has become more interesting than ever

When it comes to selecting a CPU for your PC, there's no shortage of chips for you to choose from. With Ryzen, Threadripper, and Core i9 CPUs though, the AMD vs. Intel argument is muddier than ever.
Computing

Will Apple introduce a new MacBook at its Oct. 30 event? Here's everything we know

Whether it's called the MacBook Air or just the MacBook, Apple is highly rumored to introduce a new, affordable laptop in 2018. We discuss reports about upgrading displays, processors, sign-in features, and more.
Computing

Apple CEO demands Bloomberg retract its Chinese surveillance story

Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling on Bloomberg to retract a story alleging that Apple had purchased compromised servers that allowed the Chinese government to spy on Apple. Apple's investigation found no truth to the story.
Product Review

Amid a new fleet of budget laptops, the ZenBook 13 sails where others sink

It’s never been truer that you don’t need to spend over a thousand bucks to buy a good laptop. The ZenBook 13 takes we’ve always loved about its predecessor and makes enough small refinements to keep it ahead of its competitors.
Computing

Protect your digital identity with these four easy steps to online anonymity

You don't have to be a secret agent or a notorious hacktivist to care about anonymity. Consult this guide to learn tips, tricks, and best practices for staying anonymous and keeping your online activity private