Google is testing a simple, visual interface to replace its text-based black navigation strip, and you can try it out right now with a small tweak to your browser. The experimental design replaces Google’s ubiquitous black bar with the Chrome OS app launcher, which drops down into a grid of icons for sites including Gmail, Drive, and Calendar. While there’s no suggestion as to Google’s intention to fully implement this, the company has already begun to bring the Chrome OS app launcher to the Chrome browser itself, and it has previously enabled a site-wide redesign featuring a drop-down navigation menu.
For now, the experimental launcher is a tweak that seems to have slipped through to non-employees, and it requires a user to edit a piece of website data to view it. Google Operating System discovered how to enable the tweak and provides instructions on doing so in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, which involve installing a browser extension and copy and pasting a line of text. While the implemented experiment is simple in style, it has the effect of hiding links to everything but Gmail and Google+ inside of a menu, and it doesn’t appear to work for signed-in users at the moment. Though eyes have been on Google to integrate Chrome OS and Android, it appears that we’re first seeing a promotion of Chrome apps through more prominent placement on other platforms.