Google Redesigns Chrome Browser for Material Design

Marc Schenker By Marc Schenker  |  Feb. 05, 2016

Material Design is Google’s design language that was announced by the company way back in June 2014. Though this design language has been around for almost two years, it’s been slow to gain traction in a lot of Google’s own products. Sure, many of Google’s Android-based interfaces currently display this design, but it hasn’t made a big impact on desktop browsers…until now.

Google’s upcoming version of its popular Chrome browser will finally feature some material-design touches that are a long time coming. The changes won’t be too drastic, but they will be enough to convey that the company is putting a lot of stock in this design, even if it has been slow to implement it.

In a recent Google Code request, the company makes clear that its upcoming version 50 of Chrome will contain Material Design principles in its interface.

Primarily affected are the browser’s extensions, settings, history and downloads pages. Since Material Design includes the minimalism of flat design, it’s no surprise to see that each of these pages is now visually less complex. Also of note is the use of card-based design popularized by Material Design.

Other changes are subtler, though no less meaningful in this show of support for Google’s new design language. The tabs’ corners will be harshly squared off as opposed to having the subtle rounding of its current iteration. The hamburger menu—long a source of debate and disagreement—is going to be retired. In its place, users will see the immediately familiar three-dots menu in the top-right corner of the browser. Interestingly, the recognizable “expansion” animation that’s present on mobile OS like Android and iOS will also be a part of the three-dots menu.


Even the buttons and icons will receive a facelift in version 50 of Chrome. The security icon, bookmark buttons and info bar get a redo, but that’s not all. Even Incognito Mode isn’t the same, as it will now sport a flatter, dark-gray look that resembles the tab bar’s color in the current version of Chrome.

It’s important to note that Google has already included material design in both the iOS and Android versions of Chrome, perhaps acknowledging that the number of mobile users continues to expand while desktop users have been shrinking in recent years. One of the design touches that will be carried over from Android Material Design versions is the ripple-like flourish that appears whenever buttons are clicked.


Google hasn’t officially announced when these Material Design features will hit Chrome, but expectations are that it won’t be long now. One of Chrome’s attractive aspects has been that it’s been relatively unchanged for years, which allowed users to feel very comfortable and familiar with it. It will be telling to see how users receive these subtle-yet-profound design changes in version 50.