Chrome for Windows gets Material Design and big battery improvements

Microsoft has been hammering Chrome's battery performance in recent months, but Google is starting to hit back with updates to its browser. Chrome 53 has been released to the stable channel this week, and it brings CPU and GPU power consumption enhancements for video playback, alongside "big" performance and power improvements overall. We'll have to test them fully in battery tests, but it's encouraging to finally see Google making some solid efforts to improve its laptop battery consumption.

Outside of battery improvements, this latest Chrome update also brings HiDPI improvements, alongside Material Design changes to the Chrome look and feel. You'll notice that tabs, iconography, navigation, and the general UI all feels a lot flatter. Google has even enabled a dark mode for incognito mode, and color emoji support for Windows 10 users. If you're not already automatically running Chrome 53, you can check the help > about section of Chrome to force the update.


Hooray for battery improvements!

But I’m unhappy with the shrinking of certain UI elements.

Material Design has made the address bar text smaller… and the extension icons have also gotten smaller… which makes their notification numbers smaller and harder to read.

I can turn off Material Design to fix that aspect of it… but will that cause problems somewhere else?

And there’s no telling how long Google will continue to make that an option in the future.

Can you offer more details on battery life improvements? My Chrome usage is extremely heavy and it absolutely destroys battery life on my surface/laptop and the only thing keeping me from edge was lack of a session manager plugin. But this may just help solve my woes

I haven’t used Chrome 53 on a laptop yet… but this fix to battery life has been in the works for a while.

I’m interested in seeing tests.

Ahem, I know that UI changes can sometimes be annoying, but aren’t you overthinking this ? Do these 3 pixels really make it harder for you to recognize an icon ?

I didn’t even notice it until you showed me these screenshots, and even now that I know I couldn’t tell if the icons are really smaller or if you’ve photoshopped your images.

I couldn’t tell if the icons are really smaller or if you’ve photoshopped your images.

No Photoshopping outside of capturing the images and combining them in the above image.

Do these 3 pixels really make it harder for you to recognize an icon ?

It’s not the icon… it’s the text with the icon.

Here’s my problem with all of this…. UI = User Interface.

I’m the user… and I like a certain interface.

And when that interface changes… I notice.

They went from bolder anti-aliased fonts on the icons… to thin pixel-fonts.

They went from this:

To this:

And for what? It is supposed to be better with those smaller fonts? You might not notice it… but I think it makes those numbers harder to read.

The whole reason I use that GMail Notifier extension is to see the number of unread emails. It wouldn’t bother me if I didn’t glance up at that number 1,000 times a day.

Now the numbers are not as clear. To me it is not an improvement.

It’s not that bad on my 20" 1080p desktop monitor… but it was especially frustrating on my 14" 1080p laptop monitor.

At least I’m able to change it back to make it better for me… the user.

But what’s next? Will the next revision to Chrome take that option away? And make things smaller yet again? I don’t know why they changed it in the first place.

UI changes can sometimes be annoying, but aren’t you overthinking this?

Welcome to the internet. People will complain about the smallest things on an online forum.

Including smaller harder-to-read fonts.

It’s not necessarily smaller, it’s just more HiDPi aware now.

I dunno… it looks smaller to me.

Look at the number "4" in the GMail icon in my latest comment above. It went from big-n-bold… to thin-n-tiny.

Oh I’m all for HiDPI. Sadly I do not have a HiDPI monitor. And therefore changes should not be made to make my experience worse.

You can change the "chrome://flags" of the top chrome to "Material Hybrid".

New design. Bigger icons. For me, I like everything smaller to make the main content as big as I possibly can.

Although the text might be smaller, I find the "16" far easier to read in the new design. First one looks blurry.

I’ve had Chrome with Material design on Linux for months now, and it’s kinda nice.

OMG. I want to be you.

Am I crazy or did the height of the tabs get increased? I don’t like it.

For me the font size has been reduced so I think the tab height seems relatively larger.

It did

Does it still default to vp9 video which often isn’t GPU accelerated?

Lots of people used this to get around that

Unfortunately. Edge and Safari I think are the only browsers that don’t default to VP9.

Don’t forget a proper implementation of touch interaction on Windows.

About damn time

Glad to hear about the hidpi improvements on Windows. I recently got a Windows 10 3k laptop at work and was kind of shocked by how strange the hidpi mode worked in Chrome vs other browsers.

Yeah, Chrome was the worst offender. Edge is leading the pack, followed by Opera and Firefox.

What about an update for Mac and battery life?? Any word on that?

That is just really sad for Microsoft, that Chrome supports Windows 10 emojis before Edge does.

Way, way, way too long coming. Google has lost my willingness to even try their browser after so many years of battery drain.

See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya.

What’s up with this reply? You are heavily implying Chrome is the only capable browser, the only way to interact with the www and even a cult.

People can made choices and form opinions from past experiences you know? You also know no product is infallible nor deserves your worship… Right?

View All Comments
Back to top ↑