Google has now added a new Material Design option in version 68 of Chrome Canary, which may indicate which design direction the company will head with Chrome in the future. The experimental feature centers around a redesign of the user interface and, for now, are only available in the Canary version of the browser for Windows. However, they appear to fall in line with a natural progression of the changes that have been landing on Android recently. That means that they aren't necessarily groundbreaking but should make the interface cleaner and easier to use. The background along the tabs bar has been darkened, while the tabs themselves have abandoned the slanted look for a more rectangular shape. The corners of those are more rounded than in prior versions of Chrome as well. That allows that part of the interface to pop more than it previously had. That theme extends to the URL bar, which now has an oval appearance.
Looking past that change, new guidelines are in place which changes how feedback for interactions are represented. That's because a secondary tenant of the new design language is focused on providing an intuitive experience regardless of what kind of device is being used. Touch interactions are accompanied by a more obvious "ripple" while mouse hovering and clicks continue to be accompanied by color changes to clickable items. The user avatar has also been moved to the toolbar alongside shortcuts and Chrome apps to provide a clear distinction between windows. The goal appears to be to bring Chrome's cross-platform syncing features to the forefront.
With that said, gaining access to the new interface is not as simple as just updating to the latest version of Chrome Canary since it involves adjusting internal settings in the hidden Chrome flags menu. That's accessed by navigating to the "chrome://flags" page in the URL bar and a search for "#top-chrome-md" should bring up the appropriate option. Four options are available, including Normal, Hybrid, Touchable, and Material Design refresh. Once enabled for the appropriate device type, the browser will need to be restarted and refreshed to see the changes. There's no word on when this will come to the rest of Chrome users or other platforms but Google's I/O developer conference is just around the corner in May. It's likely these types of incoming changes will be one of the big topics even if they aren't slated for widespread release for a while longer. In the meantime, the source managed to grab some screenshots of the new interface, which are well worth a look and included below.