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Leaked Android ‘L’ Images Show New Look Google Chrome

chrome hera

A pair of screenshots alleged to be taken from Android ‘L’, the next major release of Google’s mobile operating system, have surfaced online.

The images, which were attached to a bug report on the Chromium issue tracker, show a Google login dialog box that’s noticeably different from the current implementation on Android 4.4 KitKat or earlier.

Further still, the layering of the dialog over Chrome, as well as the framing around the browser, are similar to the carded interface seen in leaked shots of ‘Project Hera — a purported new interaction layer bridging mobile and web.

Putting the new sign-in flow to one side, a quick glance at the app underneath reveals a number of key visual differences compared to current, public builds of Chrome and the Android system it runs on.

hera chrome or something else

The screenshots were attached to a bug on the Chromium tracker that was publicly viewable. After being highlighted on Reddit by savvy user Doopl Google ‘restricted’ access to internal Google developers only.

Restricted Access to bug reports, attachments and patches are common practice in Chrome development. Dog fooding internally allows developers to keep significant changes, polish up new APIs and features, and limit the impact of flagrant security issues until ready.

But the images were accessible for long enough to be noticed. Reddit user Doopl uploaded copies of the images to Imgur, noting:

“The screenshots also show a slightly updated UI in Chrome 37 that matches Google’s new design language, complete with fatter action bar and circular-dotted overflow button.”

He’s certainly not mistaken. Chrome does look different in both the ‘L’ images (above) and a number of tablet screenshots also attached to the bug report.

android chrome hera

Can’t spot the changes? Take a closer look:

chrome android 5

The tab shape, colour and toolbar iconography are all thinner, flatter and more angular than the current versions of Chrome on Android.

In the images assumed to be from Android ‘L’ (an assumption based on the appearance of the ‘L’ in the status bar) a notification bell item is also prominently displayed.

Does this mean that the Chrome notification centre is getting an Android counterpart? How does this fit in with rumours of a revamped app workflow for Android? Could such a workflow extend to Chrome OS as part of Project Athena?

For now all we have is speculation. But with Google I/O now virtually upon us, we may not have to wait too long to find out more… 

  • PhantomTurtle

    Looks nice, I like it!

  • Mr Torch

    How about support for extensions like adblock and better pop up blocker?

    • David

      It has been rumored in the past that extensions would come to Chrome’s mobile apps (at least on Android), so maybe this time around we’ll see it. I personally would love to see support, but at the same time it might be a difficult task given support would be very limited if Google were to turn such a feature on at this moment.

      • Mr Torch

        Let’s hope hey! I know other browsers have extensions, for example Firefox, but for some reason I don’t like the feel of it, or the others compared to Chrome mobile. Conversely I prefer Firefox to Chrome on my Linux Mint laptop, lol.

        • Heimen Stoffels

          For me it’s even weirder. Chrome on Linux = suckish, IMHO (Chromium too). But on my Chromebook I do like Chrome for some reason.

      • vloz

        it’s no longer a rumor, it’s in beta for android and iOS since few months.

        • David

          Oh, excellent! As a Chrome Beta user, wouldn’t I have seen this though? Have you been able to access this functionality?

          • Heimen Stoffels

            Also, ChromeOS dev channel is on 37 currently but I don’t see anyone reporting this new look.

        • Heimen Stoffels

          It’s planned for 37, current beta is 36. You mean dev? Because dev is 37.

      • Heimen Stoffels

        Limited how? Firefox already supports this on Android, so it’s very much possible.

        • David

          I think you may be confused, I’m referring to running Chrome extensions and apps on mobile devices, which I state as potentially limited due to the fact that there are many apps out there that depend on resources which a mobile device may not offer or make available to the Chrome app.

  • Kenny Strawn

    Where’s the link to the bug report in question?!

  • hictio

    Isn’t flat already?

  • Kenny Strawn

    Definitely looks rather carded, to say the least… Not to mention that in the first screenshot, there seems to in fact be a sort of wedge-shaped object that resembles a boldfaced ‘L’ in the upper-left corner, similar to the Android-shaped pie-slice seen in early developer builds of KitKat prior to the official announcement by Sundar Pichai on Twitter that the code name would be KitKat and not Key Lime Pie, adding even more to this leak’s credibility. Then again, unlike the previous logo, this one seems to offer no hint as to what the actual code name could possibly be…

    The constant wrap-around border is definitely a welcome change, to say the least… and it seems likely that change could be system-wide. And, if the idea of the “Home Card” along with a similar carded interface in Athena is any indication, well, yup, then I got it right about Hera being the Chromification of Android and Athena being the Androidification of Chrome OS…

  • Jeňa Kočí

    So the ‘notification bell’ is not just ‘silent mode’ of the phone..?

    • I was confused too. Maybe Joey misunderstood?

  • Anthony Marincas

    Hmm looks good. Can’t wait to see more stuff like this at Google I/O.

  • André Viana

    VERY similar to epiphany browser

    • Heimen Stoffels

      More similar to Opera for desktop than Epiphany IMHO (Epiphany was inspired by Opera’s square tabs so…).

  • Anafa

    Looks good

  • NimeshT

    Opera for Android is already sporting the flatter look introduced in last version

    • Heimen Stoffels

      What flatter look? I’m an Opera user for years and it always had a flat look, both on desktop and mobile. I don’t see the difference.

  • Did anyone else notice that the tablet screenshot still had the “KitKat” bars icon in the upper-left corner? Also, shouldn’t that be Android 5.27/5.28/5.31? :P