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Chrome for Android launches customizable toolbar shortcut

Google has historically been very careful about changing Chrome’s interface and layout given the extremely large user base. That said, such a change could be underway in Chrome for Android with the addition of a customizable toolbar shortcut.

On Android, Chrome UI has remained – after Duplex / Duet has been abandoned – a toolbar with start button, address bar, tab changer and overflow menu, which contains many actions on a long list.

Google now appears to be increasingly rolling out a “toolbar shortcut” between the omnibox and the tab / counter. One of three actions can be displayed here: New tab (plus sign), Share or Voice search (microphone).

By default, the button you see is “Based on your consumption”, where Google gives a “current recommendation”. New tab and Share are already located in the overflow menu, while Voice Search is displayed when you press the address bar. The first two actions can be considered critical for browser use, and it makes sense why they would be elevated. In fact, the abandoned Chrome Duet redesign of the bottom bar put these actions at the center.

That said, users can manually choose which shortcut they want and even turn off the toolbar addition entirely from Chrome settings (under Advanced just below the Home button, which can also be disabled). You can also download it manually with this flag:

chrome: // flags / # adaptive-button-in-top-toolbar-customization

The toolbar shortcut goes back to Chrome 92 for Android in July 2021. At that time, it rolled out to some people as part of normal A / B testing. It has seen much wider availability in recent weeks, even after version 101 became stable on Tuesday, but Google has not yet officially announced the feature and it may end up being pulled.

This add-on is a small tweak in the grand scheme (and easily ignored / disabled), but it represents a not insignificant addition of the Chrome user interface to the Android layout. (The last one was the material you renewed, 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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