Chrome's Huge 10th Birthday Redesign: Here Are the Best Features
Sept. 19 Update: This story has been updated per Chrome 69 hitting Chromebooks.
Today, for Chrome's 10th birthday, Google's given its prized web browser a ton of new features, starting with a redesign aimed at speedier browsing.
Other new treats in the browser update (available now) include a new password manager, a smarter Omnibox search bar and improved autofill of web forms.Credit: BigTunaOnline/Shutterstock
Available now by updating to version 69, this new version of Chrome delivers change in areas that are increasingly important for today's users, that weren't as important a decade ago.
How to get Chrome 69
On desktop, click the 3 dots icon at the top right of your Chrome window, select Settings, click the Menu bar and click About Chrome. There, you should see the option to update.
On mobile, open the iOS App Store or Google Play store to update the app.
On a Chromebook, tap the profile icon in the lower right corner, tap the Settings gear, tap the Menu bar, tap About Chrome OS and tap Check for Updates.
Chrome's new look
The first thing you'll notice when using the new version of Chrome is its refreshed design, which reflects the company's Material Design principles. In a press release, Google's Ellie Powers and Chris Beckmann note that the new look features "more rounded shapes, new icons and a new color palette," which is much brighter and whiter than before. No sign of a dark mode, outside of Incognito mode.
If you keep a ton of tabs open all the time, you'll notice that Chrome does a better job of marking each site's icons (or favicons) in each tab. Chrome's interface no longer interweaves them around each other, making each tab much easier to pick out.
The newly redesigned Chrome will be seen in its versions on the desktop, Android and iOS. In the latter two, you'll notice that Google moved the toolbar to the bottom of the screen, so your thumbs won't have to reach so far to tap navigational commands.
Users looking for a taste of this new look have been able to try it out by using Chrome Canary, the public beta version of Chrome.
New and improved password manager
A decade ago, people weren't as aware of database leaks, which wind up placing your user account names and passwords on the auction block on the seedier corners of the web. Chrome's always had a password manager, but this new version will be more proactive, generating passwords for you — pushing users away from recycling their passwords. Also, the browser will create complex, unique passwords, so you're not always using an easy to guess string of characters, such as passw0rd123.
Once the password has been created, Chrome will save it to both your browser and Google account. Unfortunately, this goes against our preferred security, even though Google encrypts passwords, because storing them in the browser creates a treasure trove for malware to pilfer that sensitive data. There’s a history of vulnerabilities in the password managers built into web browsers, including Chrome. On the plus side, storing those passwords in your Google account means they'll be available in Chrome on both your laptop and phone.
I didn't notice the new password manager — nor its ability to suggest better passwords — in the Canary build, which is already on version 71.
A better search bar
Google refers to the URL and search bar at the top of a Chrome window as the Omnibox, and that name is more fitting than ever in this new version. Not only will it proactively autocomplete queries and show answers before you can click enter, but it will also route you to currently open tabs if you try to search for them.
While the auto-answer feature worked well when I tested it out in Chrome Canary (giving me the Yankees score from last night, and completing mathematic equations), its use of already-opened tabs didn't work during as well.
Other new tricks
Chrome's also adding greater control over the shortcuts available on a new tab page, and improved accuracy for autofill forms (hopefully it will stop placing the first two lines of my address in the Address 1 form). To put all of these new features to the test yourself, be sure to update your Chrome browser now. Our Macs and PCs aren't seeing the new update, so the release may be rolling out in staggered waves.
This article first appeared on Laptop Mag.