Google announced Material You at this year's I/O conference, and this post-Material Design chapter looks like it's arguably the company's most ambitious move yet. Material You is all about embracing emotion and expression, using humanistic principles like soft shapes and dynamic color theming that adapt to your wallpaper. We've seen Google's radical new design language trickle down to its apps over the last few months — one of them is Chrome, which saw a sprinkle of color extraction when we covered it last month. Now it looks like Google is going all in with Chrome's Material You makeover.
Your Chromebook is no ordinary PC: it's powered by Google's Chrome browser, providing a speedy, simple, and secure online experience. It's precisely this reason that Chrome launches automatically whenever you sign back in — there's no better way to showcase your Chromebook's strength than by putting the browser front and center. However, some people just prefer starting with a blank desktop instead, whether they want to use other apps instead, or for minimalism reasons. With the help of a hidden switch in the newest Chrome OS 92 update, you can stop your Chromebook from opening Chrome when you sign in.
There's no question that Chrome OS does (mostly) everything these days, from productivity to entertainment. One of several aspects we've grown to love is its focus on usability, and we think Tote (formally Holding Space) is a brilliant feature that can take your productivity to the next level. Google is planning on supercharging Tote even further with a fresh update we're sure most would find handy.
There's no denying that getting slammed with notifications is quite distracting. With the global pandemic causing a dramatic shift in how many of us do our jobs, it's now more important than ever to present at your best with screen sharing tools like Google Meet — free from any distraction. An upcoming Chrome change will take that one step further to help you stay focused and on track.
Google may have shelved one of the most anticipated Chrome features — Duet — but the company is still working on changing up little bits and pieces to make it easier to navigate the mobile browser. One of the latest experiments has been spotted by 9to5Google, which reports that a new flag moves Google Search into a carousel below the address bar, giving you quick access to other results.
Google has introduced a new take on Material Design during Google I/O this year, Material You. Its highlighting characteristic is its wallpaper-based dynamic colors, making for beautifully composed interfaces. So far, only a handful of apps have been updated to support these themes, but it looks like Google is hard at work updating its first-party applications to take advantage of the new theming mechanisms. Among them is Chrome, which has just received the first few wallpaper-based elements in the latest under-development version, Chrome Canary v93.
Let's be honest: it's outright frustrating to remember which function key on your external keyboard activates each Chrome OS feature, especially when you're trying to get work done. That's because Google designed these functions around its own keyboard layout, which has symbols that illustrate what they do. Google eases the friction a bit by including a shortcut on the taskbar to launch overview mode, but for now, it shows up only when connecting a keyboard to a Chrome tablet. That may soon change, as Google is working to make Chrome OS more user-friendly with any keyboard.
Google is always experimenting with the Chrome interface, though a lot of these tests just end up being cancelled — looking at you, Chrome Duet. While the bottom navigation interface is probably gone for good for now, the company continues testing other novelties, and the latest change to hit the toolbar is a customizable shortcut between the address bar and the tab switcher.
Google regularly introduces new features in Chrome through 'flags,' toggles that are only accessible through the chrome://flags page. Even though the flags page is hidden, Google also sometimes enables experimental features automatically in limited tests, leaving some to wonder what changed. Now it seems Google is working on a more obvious place to try unfinished features.
Not too long ago, Google disgruntled many power users by changing a shortcut in Chrome related to custom searches. Instead of being able to follow up a trigger word with a tap of the space key to start a custom search, Google forced users to press Tab. It quickly changed the trigger as it became apparent that people weren't willing to adjust their muscle memory that much. It looks like Google still hasn't decided on how to trigger keyword mode, as it's experimenting with activating it via a double space.