A few years ago, some of us may have seen some live beta versions of a Chrome redesign that had a bottom navigation bar, among other things. There were mixed feelings about it, but it eventually disappeared. Now that Apple appears to be bringing similar features to its Safari browser with iOS 15, a former Googler, Chris Lee, is sharing a behind-the-scenes look at why the so-called Chrome Home didn’t make it to the stable. version and was eventually dropped by the team.
Lee was a designer working on Chrome and said he was responsible for some of the changes, such as the tab groups. Your team was working on Chrome Home, specifically, the redesign of the user interface or rather the organization of the elements that were already there in a more convenient and usable interface. This included bringing some of the items to the bottom of the screen for easy access. At the time it was quite a bold move, although now we see apps doing it more and more.
He shared that in 2016, the idea for Chrome Home was to create a new gestural system for the browser. Since it was getting harder and harder for users to get to the top of the screen with ever-increasing screen sizes, they thought about relocating things to the bottom of the screen, which was easier to reach. It was a popular idea within Google, so they started doing live beta testing between 2017-2020, which some of you may have noticed.
While Lee said Chrome Home’s bottom address bar had a “cult following,” it was quite unpopular with the general public with “different tech backgrounds,” or at least those who were watching the beta test live. Eventually, he also became an advocate for stopping the launch, even if he was the one who launched the original concept. And as we already know, that redesign was never implemented and Google eventually abandoned it.
However, we don’t know if we’ll ever see something similar to Chrome Home now that Apple is bringing a similar interface to its own browser. Other OEMs and applications have been experimenting with lower address bars as well, so we could see it resurrected in one form or another.