The New Icon

The Chrome OS App Launcher icon is to be replaced with a plain white magnifying glass icon, a recent Chromium code commit reveals.

Chrome OS’s app list button currently resembles a grid of stacked squares, and has done since the introduction of the Aura desktop back in 2012 and undergoing only minor changes in the intervening time (same can’t be said for the launcher itself).

The change in iconography comes as Chromium developers continue to refine the new ‘experimental app launcher’ which, all said, is far more than just an app launcher.

Google has already landed several changes that focus on aligning the layout with the main Google homepage; e.g., a clean prominent search field and Google Doodle support, and prioritising of search results.

The changes are part of a wider plan to turn the current app launcher into a more versatile launchpad, an ‘interface which is focused on search’. It is also working on integration of Google Now cards directly into the launcher UI.

Chrome OS Launcher With Google Now Cards

The New Icon

The new icon itself has only just been committed to the Chromium codebase and is, as you’d imagine, nothing too drastic. The commit landing the new icon changes reads:

“Changed the Launcher shelf icon in ChromeOS.

Was a 9-square app grid; now a magnifying glass. This better represents the new “Ares” launcher interface, which is focused on search. (The old icon is still used if the –disable-experimental-app-list flag is given.)”

The Chrome App Launcher has undergone a number of icon changes over the years but this search icon is the first to deviate significantly. With Google’s emphasis set on making the new launcher a search hub a change of icon is needed to better relate its features to users, new and old alike.

The experimental launcher is currently enabled by default in developer channel builds of Chrome OS though those on more stable versions can opt-in using the ‘enable-experimental-app-list’ flag.

This change has now landed in the Chrome OS developer channel.
Chrome OS Development app launcher icons