transparent navigation bar

In 2019, Google introduced gesture navigation with Android 10, allowing app developers to customize the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, making it transparent and displaying app content in that space. However, despite the feature being available for a while, only a few apps have implemented it, leaving high-end Android phones feeling less premium. Fortunately, Google Chrome is stepping up by introducing a flag in Chrome Beta 114 that enables users to make their navigation bar transparent.

To enable this feature, simply activate the chrome:flags#DrawEdgeToEdge flag after installing Chrome Beta 114. Once you restart your browser, you’ll notice that web content appears behind the gesture navigation bar on supported Android versions. It’s worth noting that this flag doesn’t work with three-button navigation, which is a deliberate design choice to ensure clear separation between content and system navigation.

The transparent navigation bar

It brings a more immersive experience to websites, aligning it with the look and feel of iOS, where Chrome and Safari have long offered transparent navigation bar backgrounds. As the navigation bar is not a button, users can interact with website elements positioned behind or above the bar. This transparency effect applies to websites, the tab switcher, the new tab page, and custom tabs within apps. However, it’s important to mention that it’s currently unavailable in Chrome’s settings.

It’s evident that the work on this feature is still in progress. When activating the flag, some websites may have their top bars slightly hidden under the address bar. Similarly, the Chrome interface itself experiences a gap between the address bar and autocomplete suggestions.

In Android 14 Beta 2, Google introduced a developer flag that allows for forcing the navigation bar’s color to be transparent across all apps. However, it’s important to note that this feature doesn’t automatically make content appear behind the navigation bar; it merely matches the background color of the app with the navigation bar.

By implementing a transparent navigation bar, Google Chrome is enhancing the visual experience for Android users, bringing it more in line with other platforms. As development progresses, we can expect further refinements and improvements to provide a seamless and immersive browsing experience.