Google Chrome is getting a transparent navigation bar on Android. Currently available to beta users, this change enables a true full-screen experience, making your phone instantly feel more premium. Google may widely roll out this update to everyone in the coming weeks, once it completes the work on it.
Spotted by Twitter user @Nail_Sadykov, who is the founder of the Google News Telegram channel, this update is available in Chrome Beta 114 (via). Users need to manually enable the chrome:flags#DrawEdgeToEdge flag to get a transparent navigation bar. Once enabled and Chrome is restarted, it will show content underneath the bottom bar. You no longer have to deal with a persistent solid bar at the bottom.
This feature doesn’t work with three-button navigation. That’s because in this case, you have tappable buttons in the bottom bar. Showing content behind them would be redundant and make things look cluttered. The navigation bar, on the other hand, isn’t a tappable button. So you can even interact with UI elements in that space. The early implementation isn’t perfect and is limited to the home page and web pages. But Google would be working on improving it. Chrome already offers a transparent navigation bar on iPhones.
More Android apps should enable a transparent navigation bar
Google Chrome’s transparent navigation bar leverages an Android feature that has been around since 2019, with the launch of Android 10. That’s when Google introduced gesture navigation and allowed app developers to make the navigation bar transparent. This would put the screen space behind the tiny navigation bar to use, showing more content on the screen.
But nearly four years on, not many popular Android apps have adopted this feature. It appears Google has taken matters into its own hands. Of course, most Android OEMs already offer the option to hide the bottom bar when using gesture navigation, giving you a full-screen experience. But it’d be nice if more developers enabled a transparent navigation bar in their apps. After all, it’s different from outright hiding the bottom bar.
Meanwhile, with Android 14, Google is allowing anyone to force a transparent navigation bar in any app. This developer feature doesn’t draw the UI underneath the bottom bar but allows it to color-match the rest of the app, enabling a consistent visual experience. Google is certainly trying to fix this annoying problem of UI inconsistency between apps that haven’t adopted dynamic color-tuning. Hopefully, developers would do the needful on their ends as well.