Google has been making serious headway toward giving users more choice for theming or recoloring its Chrome browser and with the latest update, it’s just made progress again. The change, spotted by Chrome Story, builds on other alterations that were made to the browser’s New Page theming tools — aptly referred to as “Chrome Colors” features in previous reports.
That’s the menu presently found in Chrome’s Canary channel for desktop platforms and accessible via a click or tap on the “Customize” button at the bottom-right-hand side of that page’s UI. Specifically, the change refers to those found under the Colors and theme sub-menu.
Prior to the update, only five themes were selectable — including the default white theme — ranging from purple to an indigo-like “bluish” color combination. Now, there are 15 new themes that have been added, bringing the total to 20 themes.
What are the new colors and how are they accessed?
The newest additions to the range of colors, though not necessarily following the same naming scheme, are the same as those spotted in an original feature the new tool seems to have originated from. Back in February, Google kicked off its attempt to open up new theming for Chrome with the launch of a series of test themes to the associated dedicated Chrome Web Store.
In total, there were 14 themes added to that lineup, including “Just Black,” a blue-tinted color called “Slate” and reminiscent of the Google Pixel Slate Chrome OS tablet, as well as green-tinted “Oceanic” themes. Each of the other new themes with that update showed a similar parity to their given name, including the Classic Blue, Sea Foam, Banana, Black & White, Honeysuckle, Ultra Violet, High Contrast Colorful, Rose, Marsala, Serenity, and Pretty In Pink.
All of the themes added then, as with the newest themes in the theming tool, are dual-toned — that means that they use appropriate accent colors to readily differentiate between active, focused, or selected UI elements and those that aren’t in use.
Accessing the tool requires the Canary channel of Chrome so those who are on Chrome OS aren’t going to want to try and use it unless they’re already on that variant of the OS, to begin with. For everybody else, getting access is as straightforward as downloading the Canary version of the browser — available for use separately from the stable consumer-ready variant.
Once downloaded, users will need to navigate to “chrome://flags” in the URL Omnibox before using the on-page search to look for “Chrome Colors menu” and “NTP customization menu version 2.” Both of those flags will need to be set to “Enabled” instead of “Default” before resetting the browser via the pop-up button at the bottom of the page. Multiple restarts might be required.
After those are enabled, users need to open a new tab and then click the button at the bottom-right-hand side of the page to get started.
When will this leave canary?
For now, there don’t appear to be any major changes made to the extra features associated with the theming tool. Both background selection options and the page shortcut management features should still work just as they did with the prior update. That could also mean that the feature isn’t a lot closer to completion, which is likely why it is still tucked away behind flags in Chrome’s hidden settings menu.
It’s unlikely the finalization of the feature will be completed before Chrome 76 since that’s slated to start rolling out on July 30. So the most plausible launch date will be sometime after Chrome 77 in September and possibly later than Chrome 78 if there are a lot of bugs during testing on the Developer or Beta Channels.