References to Material Design 2 in Google Chrome code hint at imminent redesign and possible touch-friendly mode

According to Google’s open source repository for Chrome OS and Chrome, the company may be planning to revamp the user interface of Google Chrome

Search and software giant Google might be planning on giving its web browser, Google Chrome, a fresh coat of paint.

Image: Google

Google Chrome logo. Image: Google

According to Google’s open source repository for Chrome OS and Chrome, the company may be planning to revamp the user interface of Google Chrome. According to a detailed report by XDA developers, the company had closed the repository referring to ‘Material Design 2’ after news focused on the presence of the new design. Google reopened the repository to make some changes to the initial commit.

Instead of Material Design 2, the commit was supposed to refer to ‘Touchable Chrome’, meaning that a touch-optimized UI for Google chrome may be in works. However, the report admits that this does not rule out the possibility for a Material design revamp. Google has not issued any official statement about its plans and upcoming changes to Google Chrome. Though, it is likely that the company will roll out the changes on 2 September, Chrome’s birthday. The reason we know this is because an engineer hinted about it with a ’Chrome Birthday deck’ in one of the commits.

The report points out that it appears that Google has not finalised the final name of the new interface. It appears that one engineer “responsible for implementing the UI changes for the Chrome tab and tabstrip” referred to the new UI as "Material Design 2", but on highlighting this, rolled back the commit considering that this instance was not exactly Material Design 2. The report goes on to add that “Touchable Chrome” is not a new thing and has been part of a number of commits in the open source repository in last few months. Interested users can actually enable the new UI by changing the ‘top-chrome-md’ flag to ‘touchable’ from Google Chrome flags page in the latest versions of Chromium (the open-source version of Chrome) or Chrome Canary (the latest, experimental version of Chrome). Just to clear up any confusion, Google Chrome itself uses proprietary code developed by Google. It shares code with the Chromium project, but not everything.

Touchable Google Chrome. Image: xda

Touchable Google Chrome. Image: xda

For the uninitiated, the Google Chrome Flags page is a hidden page where developers or experienced users can tweak certain settings to change certain properties of Google Chrome. Google usually experiments with newer changes in its experimental and beta builds and takes a few versions to enable the new change even after adding the internal code in the stable build. Users who don’t want to go on developer or beta builds but want to test changes before everyone can go to the flags page and enable them. The touchable UI makes the elements much larger to make it easier for users to operate the browsers with their fingers.

Image: xda

Image: xda

The Material Design 2 UI revamp is also not ruled out because the same engineer who pointed out that the company may be planning to launch this new revamp on Chrome’s birthday also asked "Are these actually MD colours?", referring to the material redesign. It is likely that this redesign will be in line with the design changes in Android P and Chrome OS 67, however, it is too early to confirm most of the information as we are still too far from 2 September.

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