Chrome 93 hasn’t reached the stable channel yet, but Google has already released Chrome 94 as a beta. That’s because it’s the first Chrome release on the company’s speedier four-week release cycle that’s replacing the oh-so-slow six-week rhythm of old. Despite that super-short cadence, there are a few interesting things launching with Chrome 94, so let’s dive in.
Material You tweaks
As we already detailed extensively when we first spotted this in the Canary channel, Chrome 94 comes with a whole slew of sleek Material You changes on Android 12. The new visual identity aims to unify app design across Android 12 and pulls its color scheme from your wallpaper by default, which is why Chrome might not look the same across any two devices going forward. The tweaks are visible on the new tab page, the address bar, and the tab switcher, but you need to activate two flags to make the changes show up: chrome:flags#dynamic-color-android and chrome:flags#theme-refactor-android.
Left to right: Homescreen; Chrome homepage; Chrome homepage’s search.
Chrome 93 was the first release to add a few Material You tweaks, but Chrome 94’s iteration looks much more complete, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Google added these design elements in a few more places, like settings, various menus, and the share sheet.
New system pages design for desktop Chrome
Google is also working on a small redesign for desktop Chrome. When you enable the chrome:flags#webui-branding-update flag, you’ll get to see refreshed Chrome system pages, like settings, history, and more.
You can see more details and examples over at our dedicated coverage on the redesign.
Remedies for tab group haters
Google’s introduction of tab groups on mobile Chrome has been controversial, to say the least, with many users virtually revolting against the change and wishing for a way to get rid of the forced groups completely. While Chrome 94 isn’t exactly doing that, it’s making it easier to avoid using tab groups when you just want to open a link in a new tab. The browser is readding an “open in new tab” shortcut to the long-press menu, which now lives alongside the “open in new tab in group” option.
Optional HTTPS-only mode
Chrome 94 introduces an optional toggle under Settings -> Privacy and security that allows you to always use secure connections. The feature automatically upgrades all available HTTP connections to the much more secure HTTPS standard and, if a website doesn’t support that, hinders it from loading. Instead, Chrome will display a banner warning you that the HTTP connection isn’t secure and encourages you to not visit the website in question.
info.cern.ch, the home of the first-ever website, does not support HTTPS — naturally.
This behavior is part of Chrome’s HTTPS-First mode, which will eventually become the default for the browser. In the same vein, Google is experimenting with getting rid of the lock icon for HTTPS sites, since many people think it means that what they visit is a trusted site of some sort, even if that’s not true. You can read more about this topic here.
Web codes improvements
Google is working on letting you lock down your incognito tabs with your phone’s screen lock or your biometrics, but even though there’s a flag, the feature isn’t working in Chrome 94 yet. We’ll report back once there’s more to this.
Chrome 94 Beta is currently rolling out on the Play Store, but you can also get it over on APK Mirror if you’re eager to see the new design for yourself right away.