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Aura Update Brings Visual Enhancements to Chrome

Even though Google has been bringing features, performance and technology updates to Chrome regularly, the interface hasn’t seen much change since the first version of Chrome. 

Now, however, the Chrome team is bringing some much needed change to the interface. Friday’s Chrome Canary update – though it doesn’t yet change much in the way of looks – builds a foundation for more advanced interface features than the native OS elements usually allow. Chrome also controls the GPU acceleration, which allows for a faster interface.

You might already be familiar with the name ‘Aura’. It is the framework which is used to draw Chrome elements in Chrome OS. It’s shipped with the Windows build of Chrome for a while, but Friday was the first time it has actually been enabled by default.

So far, there aren’t many visible changes. One thing you’ll notice if you’re running the Aura build is the ‘a’ above the settings icon. Another is a fun fading animation when searching from the Omnibox, as well as a new scrollbar. It’s not a lot, but Aura is a pathway to more advanced and visually pleasing features in Chrome.

Chrome Canary with the Aura interface

Chrome Canary with the Aura interface

Aura is available in Chrome Canary for Windows now, and will soon be available in Linux too. It’s perhaps easier to spot on Linux because, for the first time, border controls look to match those on Windows:

Aura on Ubuntu - Compare The Window borders

Aura on Ubuntu – Compare The Window borders

According to the Chromium developers Google Group Mac OS X will not be supported.

  • Jonathan Alfonso

    Chrome is really going from being a web browser to a web platform capable of delivering the best of the web to the desktop. It’s wonderful how impartial they are when it comes to bringing the Chrome OS features to basically any OS and desktop environment. I’ve been using Chrome for the last five years and I’m glad to say I’ll be using it for the not-so-near future.

    Also, Aura is great. Just a pointer. :)

    • Boothy

      I use chrome 98% of the time (and android) in my personal life, but even at work (where I have to use windows for some legacy apps) I can take my Chrome ‘platform’ and replicate on windows, with just the few added legacy pieces I require.

  • Kevin Messer

    I must be dumb, but what does that sentence means :

    “Aura is available in Chrome Canary for Windows now, and will soon be available in Linux too. According to the Chromium developers Google Group, other platforms including Mac will not be supported.”

    • Basically Aura is available now on Windows, and will be available in Linux soon too. But not in Mac.

      Sorry, I could have worded it a little better.

      • Kevin Messer

        Okey, I understand it now. So Aura will be available on Windows and Linux but not for Mac or *BSD. Someone gave a technical explanation ?

  • John Montgomery

    Found this tidbit regarding the non-implementation on the Mac from Robert Sesek (who is apparently a Chromium dev):

    “The Cocoa UI frameworks on Mac provide a lot of rich, sometimes undocumented, behavior that we get for free. Being a true, native Cocoa application is the best thing on the Mac platform — anything else will have Chrome falling into the uncanny valley. It would also be a lot of engineering cost for little to no benefit (or even a UX deficit).”


  • I hope it will be available soon for Linux, I love being early adopter of everything, because I love new features, new technologies, sadly it is almost impossible on Linux.
    (and the best thing would be Canary for Linux or at least ability of installing unstable aside stable, having only dev channel on my work machines is not ideal state because google-chrome-unstable is sometimes… well… unstable)

  • Gustav Gansted

    I’m running aura dev channel, but when I search from the omnibox there is no fading animation. Do I need to enable it in chrome flags? I’ve got the new scrollbar btw.

  • ArkhamParkinson

    I’m testing the Aura interface on Chormium Nightly for Windows. So smooth so far, but need improve their flash player compatibility.

    • I really need to get around to giving a try – you’ve convinced me to do it ASAP!