Phones are very big but not all humans or human hands are very big, and that presents some problems for some people trying to navigate a phone one-handed, especially when interface elements are located near the very top of a phone’s display.
This is a problem I encounter day in and out when using Chrome for Android, which places all of its controls at the top of the screen. Want to start a search or type in a web address? Top of the screen. Want to open a new tab or switch to an existing tab? Top of the screen.
For the sake of our thumbs
But that might change. Google is testing a version of Chrome for Android that places its controls at the bottom of the screen. It’s a really simple change, but it could go a long way toward making the app easier to use. When holding the phone in your right hand, this new design would place the tab switcher just beside your thumb.
Android Police spotted a test of this design inside of Chrome for Android’s developer build. It’s very clearly still in testing, however. The option is tucked away, and there’s still a blank space at the top of the screen where the tab bar would normally be.
Google is maybe the last major browser developer to get on board with putting controls on the bottom. Safari for iOS includes its address bar and refresh button at the top, but several controls — including forward, backward, and tab switching — are all at the bottom. And Microsoft has placed browser controls and the address bar on the bottom for the mobile versions of both Internet Explorer and Edge for years now.
There’s no indication of whether Google will follow through and move Chrome’s controls to the bottom — it could just as easily give this experiment up. But the fact that it’s hidden away, even in this very unfinished form, shows that some work is going into it. Hopefully, it’ll get finished up and shipped.