Chrome’s browser for iOS is undergoing tests to allow users to position the address bar (often called the Omnibox) at the bottom of the screen, echoing moves made by Apple’s Safari and other browser competitors. As devices expand in size, this alteration is seen as a move towards improved user experience and ergonomic efficiency.
Address Bar Switch – How It Works
- The new feature was identified on the TestFlight version of Google Chrome, as reported by MacRumors’ Steve Moser.
- Users can now choose to shift the location of the address bar in two main ways:
- Press and hold on to the address bar until an option appears allowing its repositioning.
- Navigate to Chrome’s settings to alter the location.
- However, it’s worth noting that not all users on the TestFlight version have spotted this feature yet, indicating a phased rollout.
- To activate this feature, users can enter a specific address in Chrome, enable the feature flag, and restart the browser.
Comparison with Other Browsers
While this feature seems relatively new for Chrome on iOS, Apple’s Safari made a similar change with its iOS 15 release, shifting the default URL bar to the screen’s bottom. This decision was met with mixed reactions, prompting Apple to introduce a toggle for users to revert to the classic iOS 14 design if desired. Samsung Internet, the default browser on Samsung devices, already offers users the choice to relocate the address bar. This proves particularly useful for taller devices like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.
The Chrome Duet Legacy
Before this recent development on iOS, Google had its share of experiments with the address bar’s placement. One of the most notable ones is the Chrome Duet feature on Android, an initiative that spanned four years. Chrome Duet, a feature flag, allowed users to transition the address bar from the screen’s top to its bottom. However, to the dismay of many, Google discontinued this feature without integrating it into the main Android build. 9to5Google highlighted how Apple’s native browser, Safari, had adopted this bottom bar position years ago, emphasizing the ergonomic sense it makes. With most smartphone users holding their devices near the bottom, having an address bar closer to their thumbs can enhance the browsing experience, especially on larger screens.
Google’s Response and the Way Forward
Google spokesperson Joshua Cruz remarked, “We’re constantly experimenting with the Chrome UI based on feedback from users,” without elaborating on whether this feature might see a rollout on Android as well. Historically, Google has dabbled with this feature on Android. In 2017, the tech giant tested the URL bar’s bottom placement on Chrome for Android but retracted it later. Given the resurgence of this design on iOS, there’s a renewed hope among many that this indicates a broader change in Chrome’s user interface strategy across platforms.
As phone screens continue to grow in size, the demand for ergonomic and user-friendly designs escalates. Whether or not Chrome’s address bar at the bottom becomes a mainstay on iOS (and potentially Android) remains to be seen. However, the ongoing tests suggest a potential trend in rethinking browser designs in response to evolving user needs and preferences.