Even visually, we've seen the operating system evolve a lot over the years with features like a calendar in the system tray. But there's one big upcoming visual change in particular that is just as important for ChromeOS. It's the long-awaited Material You redesign.
What is Material You?
If you're unfamiliar, Material You is the new design language used across Google's latest products. It's been in use on Android, as well as several of Google's other apps and services. It embraces emotion and expressiveness and makes your device feel more personal, in part by incorporating colors from your wallpaper into the system UI.
Although Google hasn't confirmed that it's bringing Material You to ChromeOS, but rumors have suggested it'll happen. Android has been using Material You for a while, so this is a long time coming. Thanks to the playground that is the ChromeOS Canary channel, I was able to enable it on my Chromebook. Just because it's in Canary doesn't mean it's guaranteed to release, but based on my time with it, I hope Google makes it official.
My Chromebook feels visually united with my Android phone
One of Material You's main focuses is to make your Google devices feel more unified — or, as Google puts it, "alive and adaptive for every screen." This was especially appealing to me, a Google fan who owns a Pixel 7 Pro and a large collection of Chromebooks. After enabling the Material You effects with the qs-revamp flag, my Chromebook is a natural extension of my phone.
In particular, the most commonly used part of my Chromebook, the Quick Settings area, feels so much more clean, alive, and vibrant. And it's all because of a few changes coming with the new design.
For one, using the notification area feels similar to what I get when I pull it down from the top of my Android screen. It's cleaner with larger sliders for brightness and volume, which makes touching my Chromebook's screen feel more inviting. No longer are the sliders designed for just mouse clicks. It feels reminiscent of what Microsoft did with Quick Settings in Windows 11 — larger sliders that both look great and feel great to interact with.
I also like how those sliders and other areas in Quick Settings can dynamically adapt to colors. It's been like this forever with Windows 10 and Windows 11, and I'm glad to see the change in ChromeOS. Indeed, though this early Canary iteration of the Material You redesign seems a bit broken at the moment (it doesn't work with all wallpapers as it does on Android), the sliders in the Quick Settings area seemed to adapt to the blue-colored wallpapers that I have set. It just looks amazing compared to the old plain blue line, both in light mode and dark mode. Google even thought about switching between dark and light themes, and there seems to be a (non-functioning) toggle to the left for this.
Capping things out are how controls in the Quick Settings are now pill-shaped tiles, where the color of your wallpaper bleeds through to the button. This has been controversial, with a fellow ChromeOS fan on Twitter telling me they don't like it, but it feels great to me. In particular, the switch to the pill shape means the Quick Settings area feels more purposeful and informational. The area for the Wi-Fi network, for example, points out to the fly-out menu from the right, where it actually opens (instead of downwards). It's a small natural touch that I appreciate.
This isn't really a part of Material You, but I appreciated that Google separated notifications from Quick Settings into its own separate area to the left of the date. It's something that Microsoft did in Windows 11, and I'm happy to see it now in ChromeOS. It was always annoying to click the date to see notifications and trigger the Quick Settings, too. Now things are in their own separate space, which is great considering Android apps tend to spam the notifications.
There are still some changes I'd like to see
All around, these are some great changes to see in ChromeOS. It's exciting and refreshing for Chromebooks. There's still some more I'd like to see, though. It'd be cool to see Material You roll out to system apps in ChromeOS, like the settings or files apps. It'd also be cool to see the profile picture in the Quick Settings (it's removed in this Canary iteration). But what Google has done so far is a great way to further integrate my Android phones into my ChromeOS, and I can't wait to see where this goes.