Google tests curvy Chrome tabs with Material Design overhaul
Hope you like that flat interface style.
Stephen Shanklandprincipal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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I've been covering the technology industry for 24 years and was a science writer for five years before that. I've got deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and other dee
Google is trying out a new Chrome interface that for the first time in a decade presents a very different look for the tabs and address bar at the top of the widely used web browser.
Since its public debut in 2008, Chrome has featured a trapezoidal tab for each website you have open. But tabs now look very different on Chrome Canary -- a very rough-around-the-edges version used to test changes before they reach a broader audience. The active tab has a slope-shouldered look with curved corners. The grayed-out inactive tabs merge with the the browser itself and are separated only by thin vertical lines. In addition, the address bar's text box is a gray oval against a white backdrop, instead of a round-cornered white rectangle with a hairline border.
Interface overhauls can be a challenge for widely used software when people who use the programs suddenly see something very different, and Chrome surpassed a billion users in 2015. But done right, such changes can make software easier to understand and use.
"Honestly, it's fascinating to see different teams/companies work on the same problems, circling the same sets of solutions. And how cyclical it is," tweeted Madhava Enros, senior director of Firefox user experience at Mozilla. Mozilla dropped the curvy tabs in favor of plain rectangles similar to Microsoft's Edge browser as part of an effort to improve performance with its newer Quantum-branded Firefox versions.
"We're continually testing new interfaces and features on the Canary channel of Chrome," Google said in a statement about the changes, but declined to share further details.
However, a Chrome programmer, François Beaufort, said on Google+ that he likes the new look. "Plenty of things have been updated for the better in my opinion: tab shape, single tab mode, omnibox suggestion icons, tab strip coloring, pinned tabs and alert indicators," he said. The omnibox is Chrome's all-purpose box for typing and showing web addresses and for initiating searches. With the new design, suggested websites that appear when you start typing are more widely spaced, another Material Design characteristic.
First published July 22, 8:55 a.m. PT. Update, July 23, 12:13 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Google.
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