To mark the 10th anniversary of its Chrome browser, Google is rolling out a substantial refresh of the browser, giving it a softer, rounder look and some neat new features. Most of the changes in Chrome version 69 are small quality-of-life tweaks, some of which are so subtle you might not even notice as part of Chrome’s new design. Though they may not be life-changing, here are a few things worth checking out in the new Chrome experience:
Screenshot: Mike Epstein
Chrome can now make your passwords in addition to storing them—the most substantial feature in this update. The browser’s password storage and autofill features now includes a password manager, a la LastPass or 1Password, which makes it a lot easier to use longer, better passwords by default.
When you’re signing up for a new service, Chrome will be more than happy to suggest a strong password for you to try. Simply click on the password box and Google will generate one on your behalf, just as it would offer to fill in a password you’ve already saved.
If you’re already using a password generator, this feature won’t feel like anything new, but it’s convenient to have this service integrated into the browser, at least.
Google gives the search bar a big boost
Screenshot: Mike Epstein
Chrome now presents search results for common queries (such as the current weather) in the search bar, so you don’t even have to click through to a second page to find the answer to whatever it is you’re looking for.
In its announcement blog post, Google said that it can present all kinds of information via Chrome’s Omnibox, but it seems to be limited to very common, specific phrases right now, like “How long is Incredibles 2?” (two hours, five minutes) and “What’s the weather?” (a sweltering 91 degrees here in Brooklyn).
Tab Search in the “Omnibox”
I’m surprisingly excited about this. Have you ever had so many tabs open that you couldn’t find the article or conversation you were looking for, forcing you to systematically close tabs to search for the needle in the haystack that is your digital life?
Of course you have. I do it at least twice a day.
To help us all find that which we’ve saved and lost in our browsers, Google has given Chrome the ability to find specific web pages via its Omnibox (the address bar). Simply type the website or page name and select “Switch to Tab” to discover what you lost! I’m breathing easier already.
Chrome’s aesthetic overhaul also makes tabs easier to read by making each site’s icon more prominent, so you’re less likely to lose your tabs in the first place.
On your phone, a search bar at thumb’s reach
If you use Chrome on your phone, there’s one big UI change that sticks out like a sore—forgive me—thumb.
The Chrome iOS app now features a sticky toolbar at the bottom of the screen, rather than the top. This effectively reconfigures the experience for one-handed browsing, as you don’t need to awkwardly shift your hand up to the top of your phone screen to pick a tab or pull up the search bar.
There are too many Michael Epsteins out there…Screenshot: Mike Epstein
The list of options in the “more” menu—the ellipses on the right side of the toolbar—is also much easier to read and scan, thanks to bigger text and new icons for functions like bookmarking and requesting the desktop version of a page.