Ex-Googler Chris Lee shared story behind why Chrome Home didn’t materialize

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A few years ago, some of us may have seen some live betas 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 seems to be bringing similar features to their Safari browser with iOS 15, an ex-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 abandoned by the team.

Lee was a designer who worked on Chrome and he said that he was responsible for some of the changes like tab groups. His team was working on Chrome Home, specifically, the redesign of the user interface or rather organizing the elements that were already there into a more convenient and usable interface. This included bringing some of the elements to the bottom of the screen for easier access. At that time it was a pretty bold move although now we’re seeing apps doing this more and more.

He shared that back in 2016, the idea for Chrome Home was to create a new gestural system for the browser. Since it was becoming harder for users to reach the top of the screen with the steadily increasing screen sizes, they thought about relocating things down to the bottom of the screen which was easier to reach. It was a popular idea within Google and so they started doing live beta tests between 2017-2020, which some of you may have noticed.

While Lee said that the Chrome Home bottom address bar had a “cult following”, it proved pretty unpopular to the general public with “varying tech literacy”, or at least those who were seeing the live beta test. Eventually, he also became an advocate to stop the launch even if he was the one who pitched the original concept. And as we know by now, that redesign never rolled out and Google eventually abandoned it.

We don’t know though if we’ll ever see something similar to Chrome Home now that Apple is bringing a similar interface to their own browser. Other OEMs and apps have also been experimenting with bottom address bars so we might see it resurrected in one way or another.

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