Chrome Home was an ambitious redesign of mobile Chrome's main UI. It brought Chrome's toolbar to the bottom of the screen and turned it into a peeking panel that could be swiped to expose additional controls.
I created the original concept and pitch for Chrome Home in 2016. It was based off two insights:
Phones were growing in size, and we had opportunity to innovate in creating a gestural, spatial interface that would still be usable with one hand.
Mobile Chrome was also growing in features - but because its minimalist interface kept everything behind a "three dot" menu, these features were underutilized and hard to access.
The idea caught traction internally, eventually becoming a Chrome org priority. I then led a team to execute and iterate on the concept. Executing on Chrome Home required rethinking not just the toolbar, but almost all of Chrome's UI: search, bookmarks, tabs, prompts, etc. To inform our decisions, we used a variety of prototyping and testing approaches of increasing fidelity. Ultimately, such a fundamental change to a web browser required nothing short of building it into the product and testing it in longitudinal studies and live beta experiments.
We heard a mixture of reactions. The feature gained a cult following among the tech community, but for many mainstream users, the change felt disorienting. Chrome serves billions of users around the globe with varying tech literacy. Over the course of many iterations, I became increasingly convinced that launching Chrome Home would not serve all our users well.
So just as I strongly as I had pitched the original concept, I advocated for us to stop the launch - which took not a small amount of debate.
Chrome Home lives on as a lesson for both myself and the whole Chrome team about the intentionality needed to innovate within a product of massive scale. Some might argue that we never should have tried such a thing; others might say that we should've seen it through. The approach I took here is one I stand by: try boldly, but be willing to listen to users and question yourself.
Oh, and Safari in iOS 15 picked up some similar ideas and criticisms.