For over a year, Google has been testing an experimental interface in Chrome for Android, nicknamed ‘Chrome Home.’ It first appeared in October, and at that point, the only change was the address bar being at the bottom of the screen (instead of at the top). Then the New Tab Page was revamped with a bottom tab bar, and in August of last year, the UI was changed again.
Despite the interface being in development for so long, it has never been widely rolled out. It has been enabled by default in Chrome Beta, Dev, and Canary, but only a very small number of Chrome stable users have it. December’s release of Chrome 64 seemingly put the final pieces in place, but now it looks like Google might be giving up on it.
A few days ago, several bug reports related to the interface were marked as ‘WontFix’ on the Chromium bug tracker, with the following comment being added:
“We are ending the current Chrome Home experiment and closing the corresponding Chrome Home bugs. Thanks for the feedback and support!”
That comment could be interpreted in several ways. Perhaps Chrome Home is completed and Google is ready to roll it out, or the company is ending development of the feature. The word ‘current’ could also indicate that a new iteration of Chrome Home is in the works.
We reached out to multiple people at Google for comment, but they didn’t want to make statements on the status of Chrome’s in-development features. Thus, we can only speculate, but our best guess is Google is giving up on it. This is mostly based on reports of Chrome Home being disabled for users of Chrome Dev and Canary, which formerly had it enabled by default in most cases (see comments on this G+ post).
I reinstalled the latest Chrome Dev and Canary updates multiple times, and was unable to get Chrome Home to turn on by itself. In addition, the link on the New Tab Page to enable Chrome Home no longer appears. Chrome Home can still be enabled manually using the #enable-chrome-home flag, so it hasn’t been completely removed yet.
Hopefully we’ll find out more information in the coming days and weeks, but at least for now, it looks like Google is putting Chrome’s major interface revamp on the backburner.
Update 1: 2018/02/07 12:10pm PST
XDA Developers discovered a commit in the Chromium gerrit, describing what is probably successor to Chrome Home. The code snippet describes ‘Chrome Duplex,’ a split toolbar mode of Chrome Home. On the latest build of Canary, the #enable-chrome-home flag has been renamed to #enable-chrome-duplex, but turning it on does nothing at the moment.
It’s not clear what a split toolbar mode actually means, but I imagine it should appear in Canary and Dev sometime in the upcoming weeks.