Chrome for Android might get a great design change for one-handed use

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.

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.


It looks weird. I don’t like it.
Why am I like this? My thumb is gonna love it…

It’s a jarring change because it’s been the same for so long. But it’s for the better.

It also wouldn’t look like this exactly – it’s clearly just a test version and not a final UI by any means.

If only they would bring back the tablet UI and move the controls back to the bottom.

I get why it’s better and why I should want this… Yet I really don’t.

That’s understandable. The design is also jarring for me — at first. But the more I think about it and play with it, it makes so much sense. Especially for those of us who use Smart Screen and other tap-to-wake apps, the controls at the bottom make it easier to not accidentally turn off your screen. I’m down for Google bringing this to main Chrome and Chrome Beta.


Edge has it right.

WP since 2011 had it right

yeah windows has had it right for a long time!

Too mad Windows Phone had so much else wrong.


They did not have much else wrong… They did not had much else.

True, I enjoyed my HTC Imagio, but boy did I not look back once jumping to Android.

YEEESSS!!!! This is fantastic. The user interface needs to adapt to these new giant phones. Most buttons and toggles are still at the top of the screen where it’s hard to reach

Apple’s IOS is awful for it

I find Reachability works really well for this kind of stuff.

in the same that having to go get a step ladder works well – because someone puts the sugar on top of the cupboard every time you make a coffee.

reachability is an attempt to recognise the interface is broken, but does nothing to fix it.

Okay. It works for me though

It might not be as efficient or functional, but hey, you can use with one hand!

That is great, but will it work without the need to carry a power plant?

Something something Android copying iOS 1.0.

But on a more serious note, instead of coming up with workarounds for screens that are too large to use one-handed why not just, I don’t know, create phones small enough to be used one-handed?

Sometimes people like both.

People don’t want smaller phones. If they did, the market would reflect that in higher sales for smaller phones. What people want are larger screens, and that can be harder to deliver in a smaller phone factor even if you go bezel-less. HTC has managed this with the HTC One M8, M9 and 10; but the longer screen isn’t to everyone’s liking and lots of people want screens as wide as the LG G4 and iPhone 6 Plus.

To adjust to this reality, software makers must adapt phones for the size factor. In the case of Google, that means Chrome’s controls should be at the bottom of the screen instead of at the top. Even on a smaller phone, the changes would make sense because it makes it easier for the user to navigate with one hand regardless of phone size. Besides, putting the controls at the top of the screen is a legacy from days of Chrome as a computer browser; there’s no reason to keep such a legacy detail in a mobile device.

Very well put!

People don’t want smaller phones. If they did, the market would reflect that in higher sales for smaller phones.

Like the high sales of the iPhone SE?

Because most people that have large screen phones don’t mind needing to use 2 hands for some things. You can keep your 4" screen.. I’ll stick with my 6" Nexus 6 until I get my Pixel XL.

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