Chrome for Android is rolling out a customizable toolbar shortcut
Google has always been very cautious about changing Chrome’s interface and layout given the very large user base. That said, such a change could be on the way in Chrome for Android with the addition of a customizable toolbar shortcut.
On Android, the Chrome UI remained – after the discontinuation of Duplex/Duet – a toolbar with home button, address bar, tab switcher and overflow menu, which contains many actions in a long list.
Google now seems to be rolling out a “toolbar shortcut” more widely between the Omnibox and the tab button/counter. One of three actions may appear here: New Tab (plus sign), Share, or Voice Search (microphone).
By default, the button you see is “Based on your usage”, with Google providing a “Current Recommendation”. New Tab and Sharing are already housed in the overflow menu, while voice search appears when you tap on the address bar. The first two actions can be considered essential to the use of the browser and it is logical that they are elevated. In fact, the discontinued redesign of the Chrome Duet bottom bar has brought these actions to the fore.
That said, users can manually select the shortcut they want and even disable the toolbar addition entirely from Chrome’s settings (under Advanced just below the Home button, which can also be disabled). You can also get it manually with this flag:
The toolbar shortcut dates back to Chrome 92 for Android in July 2021. Back then, it was rolling out to some people as part of normal A/B testing. It’s seen much wider availability in recent weeks, including after version 101 went stable on Tuesday, but Google has yet to officially announce the feature and it may end up being retired.
This addition is a small tweak in the big scheme (and easily ignored/disabled), but it’s a sizable UI addition to the Chrome for Android layout. (Last was the hardware you revamp where the functionality was unchanged.) Google must think this button is a big enough improvement for users to roll it out.
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