Instructions to activate Google Chrome’s Split toolbar on Android

Google regularly update Chrome like most other Chrome products or applications. Unlike some of its other services, despite the development on Google Chrome is quite transparent. The Mountain View based company offers several different versions of Chrome like Chrome beta, Chrome dev, Chrome Canary, etc. These are not intended for end users and are generally less reliable than the stable version. Another way that Google tests Chrome features before releasing the final version instead of the beta is through flags that Google intentionally hides it. Now simply using flags command on Chrome can allow users to enable split toolbar on Chrome for Android.

For those not getting started, Chrome flags are a hidden part of Chrome. Google hides some development settings and features as flags here, which are not enabled by default for obvious reasons. Users can access these hidden settings by going to chrome://flags. Previously, we showed you how you can use Chrome’s flags to:

Some of those flags just may not be available anymore or may have changed their name or are present in a different form. These are considered features in development and they are bound to change or disappear completely over time. An example of this would be the flag of Chrome Home, that’s how we were able to move the address bar to the bottom before. It was death, however, that gave rise to Google flags that have yet to appear in a stable build of Chrome for Android. It was first spotted on Chrome Canary a few months ago but it didn’t exactly work again after that.

Google’s Duplex Flags has now been ported to Chrome dev and it also works on Chrome Canary built now. The reason we’re discussing this flag here is that it’s a flag that enables the split toolbar on Chrome. First, Reddit user /u/armando_rod discovered this flag and there have been many new additions to this flag in the past few months. When enabled, an additional toolbar will be added at the bottom of Chrome. Now it mimics the toolbar at the top with a tab button, a menu button, and in some cases a home button as well. Instead of a spread out address bar though this one has a colorful G logo in the center. Tapping on it will simply return the address bar and the keyboard.

This may seem useless and a waste of space, but like the toolbar at the top, the new bottom toolbar also disappears when you scroll. What it offers is convenient one-handed use which can be really useful now that 18:9 screens become a trend. Several other Android browsers already have their toolbars and in many cases even the address bar at the bottom. Google seems to be putting a lot of thought into it, but so far these features only show up as flags in Chrome dev.

Enable split toolbar on Chrome for Android

So how do you enable the split toolbar? As we mentioned, this can happen via Chrome’s flags. However, you will need to use Chrome dev or Chrome Canary, both of which are unlikely to be reliable. Chrome Canary is generally more buggy than Chrome dev or Chrome beta. I’ve been using Chrome dev which allows it to use always and it should be better patched. It is quite prone to crashes if you are a fairly frequent Chrome user.

  1. If you’re willing to try it out, download one of the Chrome versions from the Play Store. Chrome Dev: Free

    Chrome Canary (unstable): Free

  2. After you have Chrome Dev or Chrome Canary, please visit chrome://flags and search for “duplex”. Alternatively, you can directly access chrome://flags/#enable-chrome-duplex by enter it in the address bar.
  3. Once you’ve found the flags, tap the dropdown that says Default, by default and select Turn on .
  4. You will notice a message appear at the bottom with a big blue button saying RELAUNCH NOW. Tap it and Chrome Dev (or Canary) will relaunch.
  5. You will notice nothing has really changed. Close the browser and relaunch it.
  6. Now you can see the toolbar split with one at the bottom as shown in the screenshot below.

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