Skip to main content

Google is making navigation more thumb-friendly in Chrome for Android

Google Chrome
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Using Chrome to browse the web on your phone means spending a lot of time navigating around the screen using your thumbs. If you have a large-screened phone – or small hands – getting your thumb all the way to the top of the screen to switch tabs can be something of a stretch.

Thankfully, Google seems to be working on a solution. It's something the company has experimented with before, and anyone running the beta version of the mobile browser can try out a new, optional navigation bar at the bottom of the screen rather than the top.

The update gives you access to something that resembles – but does not completely mimic – the look of the tab bar in Chrome on the desktop. To switch to another tab you have open, there's no need to stretch up to the top right of the screen to access the tab-switch button as everything is now nicely available at the very bottom of the screen in the 'conditional tab strip'.

In the bottom toolbar you can see icons representing all of the tabs you have open, and you just need to tap one to switch to that site. If you have a large number of tabs open (and who doesn't?) you can swipe left and right to scroll through them all. The navigation bar also lets you close tabs you no longer need, open new ones, and access your history

Bottoming out

In order to take advantage of the new bottom navigation bar, you'll have to be running the beta version of Chrome for Android. You can download this build of the browser from Google Play – but remember, this is unfished beta software, so there may be a few issues with the app.

Once you have the beta installed, head to chrome://flags/#enable-conditional-strip and use the dropdown menu to enable the feature. As this is currently an experimental option, you may find – as some people are reporting – that the bottom tab bar does not show up. A browser restart may help, or you may just need to wait a little longer for Google to flip a switch server side.

If you do get it working, enjoy it while you can. It's not clear when, or even if, the bottom navigation feature will make its way to the stable build of Chrome.

Via Ars Technica