Google unwraps new look for Chrome as browser hits 10

Popular browser also improves password management and adds customisation features

Photograph: Sascha Steinbach/EPA

Photograph: Sascha Steinbach/EPA

 

Google has given Chrome a makeover and new features as the browser celebrates its 10th birthday.

The anniversary edition includes a new look across desktop, Android and iOS; an improved password manager; and improvements to the “omnibox” that combines the address bar and the search box.

The web browser, which has a 60 per cent market share according to Statcounter, was released for Windows on September 2nd 2008 with the intention of simplifying and speeding up web browsing. It ditched much of the clutter of other web browsers and simplified security updates, with Chrome refreshed every six weeks. Google launched Chrome for OS X and Linux in 2009, with the mobile version for Android 4 added in 2012.

“Today we celebrate Chrome’s 10th birthday, and just like a kid on the cusp of double digits, we’re constantly growing and changing,” the company said in a blog post penned by Chrome product management desktop lead Ellie Powers and mobile lead for Chrome Chris Beckmann.

Redesign

The redesigned Chrome changes how tabs are displayed, with new icons and colours, a more rounded look and a new shape that makes the site icons easier to see when you have multiple tabs open. On iOS, the toolbar has been moved to a position that makes it easier to use.

The omnibox will now show answers to your searched directly in the search bar, and also alert you if you are searching for a site you already have open in another tab, even if it’s in another Chrome browser window, allowing you to jump straight to it. There are plans to add the ability to search your Google Drive files from the omnibox too.

It’s not just about aesthetics and some convenient search functions. One of the most significant updates Google has introduced deals with passwords. In a bid to increase security for users, Chrome will also generate strong passwords for users, saving them to their Google accounts for easy access. Safari on iOS offers a similar function, using iCloud keychain to keep passwords updated across multiple devices. It eliminates the temptation to recycle the same tired passwords, which is a security risk.

Chrome is also adding some new personalisation features, allowing users to create and manage website shortcut from a new tab, and customising new tab backgrounds with personal images.

Among the changes that have already been implemented are an ad blocker that weeds out malicious or annoying ads, launching site isolation to mitigate against the threat posed by the Spectre vulnerability in microchips and giving website developers a shove towards a more secure web by pushing HTTPS.

After taking the crown of most popular web browser, Google is now the one to beat. The company is facing increasing competition from rivals such as Firefox and Microsoft with its Edge browser.

“We’re now rolling out a set of new experiments to improve Chrome’s startup time, latency, usage of memory, and usability,” the company said.

How to get it

Chrome automatically updates , but if you aren’t seeing the latest version, open your browser, click the three dots in top right corner, and select Help>About Google Chrome. It will show you the version number you are currently using. The latest version is 69, but if you are still on the old version, you will get a prompt to relaunch the browser to complete the update.