It's that time of the month again - Google has released a brand new version of Chrome for Android. We're now up to version 63, which brings a few useful improvements and further changes to the in-development 'Chrome Home' interface.
Google has been working on a major interface revamp for Chrome since October of last year, called 'Chrome Home.' It started to take shape in March, and then it was revamped again in August. Google started rolling it out with Chrome 62, but the vast majority of users are still on the old design by default.
Modern UI in Chrome 62
There are a few new flags in Chrome 63, which indicate Google is putting the finishing touches on Chrome Home. One new flag, 'Chrome Home Promo' (#enable-chrome-home-promo), adds an item to the overflow menu titled 'You're using the new Chrome.' Tapping on it opens a popup explaining the new interface, with a switch to disable it entirely.
Another flag called 'Chrome Opt-out Snackbar' (#enable-chrome-home-opt-out-snackbar) is exactly what it sounds like. If someone chooses to disable the Chrome Home UI with the above-mentioned switch, this flag will ask users to take a survey. I'm sure most of the responses will be, "why is everything white now?" and "why did my address bar move?"
Presumably, both of these flags will be enabled whenever Google decides to start rolling out Chrome Home to everyone. There's still no telling when Google will pull the switch, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's soon.
New flags page
Chrome's flags page, located at chrome://flags, contains toggles for hundreds of features and experiments (including the above-mentioned Chrome Home UI). But the page itself has hardly changed since the browser was introduced, and it's especially tedious to navigate on mobile. Thankfully, there's a new design in Chrome 63.
We first covered the new layout when it reached Chrome Canary two months ago, and now it has arrived in the stable version. Everything is more spaced out, the tiny links are now large buttons, and there is finally a search bar.
'Minimal UI' for web apps
When you add a site or web app to your home screen, Chrome checks the site's manifest file to see how the web app wants to be shown. Until now, there have only been three options. The default option (also called 'browser') opens the web app in a new browser tab, 'standalone' opens the application with the status bar visible but no browser UI, and 'fullscreen' makes the web app full screen.
From left to right: Default UI, Standalone UI, Minimal UI
With Chrome 63, there is a new option that developers can use - 'Minimal UI.' On Chrome, this makes the web app look like a Chrome Custom Tab, and the web app can define the UI color. This is ideal for web apps that still want users to easily access the current URL, like blogs or news sites.
You can try a demo of the Minimal UI here. Just add that web app to your home screen to see it in action.
Like always, Chrome 63 includes changes for both users and developers. Here are some smaller features that ship with this update.
- Auto-completion in the address bar has been improved.
- The new Device Memory API allows sites to determine how much RAM your device has.
- Chrome for Android now shows permission prompts as pop-ups, instead of banners at the bottom of the screen.
- Sites can use the new 'overscroll-behavior' CSS property to change what happens when the page is scrolled all the way to the end.
- NTLMv2 authentication is now supported.
- The /deep/ and >>> CSS selectors have been removed from Chrome.
- Web page buttons on Chrome for macOS should now look more native.
- The popup for download
- On the desktop, it is now easier to view SSL certificates for websites.
- Smart Text Selection should now work on Android 8.1.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.