Chrome’s address bar could grow taller in Google’s 2023 Material You refresh

Eating into web pages' usable screen space

Google Chrome is one of the most widely used web browsers in the world, but that doesn't stop the development team from experimenting with new functional additions and visual tweaks to improve the user experience. As Material You design seeps deeper into Chrome, accompanying visual changes are coming to light, such as the ever so slightly taller Omnibox now available in Chrome Canary.

Chrome for desktop got its first taste of Material You back in November last year, while the Android app continues picking up user interface tweaks styled to match Google's guidelines. Chrome feature researcher @Leopeva64 on Twitter recently found a new flag in the browser's Canary build for desktop and mobile. When enabled, it makes the Chrome address bar, also called the Omnibox, slightly taller.

Curiously, enabling the new flag changes nothing on the Canary Android app. We believe the flag won't be functional on the mobile app, because several Material You changes were made to the Omnibox already with Chrome 110. On desktop, the increased height may seem like a small imperceptible tweak, but it makes the Omnibox section about as tall as the tab bar above it, helping the overall uniformity across the interface. Functionally, we don't see any significant use for it, except the possibility of larger icons for installed extensions.

Leopeva64 points out a significant downside to this change, though — less vertical space for scrolling webpages. Since people use most desktop displays in landscape orientation, they are wider than they are tall, meaning one may need to scroll a little more if the browser’s Omnibox gets a few pixels taller. Yes, you can always switch to full-screen view to maximize real estate, but it may not be the ideal solution if you're multitasking across applications or several Chrome tabs.

One could dismiss it as an insignificant change or label it as an additional encroachment on the usable screen space in Chrome. Either way, the new flag is in Chrome Canary at present, so there's no telling if it could make its way to the stable or beta channel. However, the possibility is very much alive.

Conclusion on Chrome's address bar could grow taller in Google's 2023 Material You refresh

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