Google Chrome's downloads bar is getting less annoying

Man using a headset for video and voice calling on a laptop
(Image credit: fizkes / Shutterstock)

Google is currently testing a new downloads feature in Chrome Canary, the development channel for its Chrome web browser, that should offer users a less intrusive experience when downloading content.

As spotted by Reddit user Leopeva64-2, a new downloads icon will sit in the toolbar alongside any extensions you currently have installed into the Chrome browser, similar to the downloads display seen in the Microsoft Edge web browser. The planned relocation was spotted late last year by the same Reddit user, though we now have additional information about the download bubble itself.

A gif showing the current Downloads bubble progress for Google Chrome

(Image credit: Google / Leopeva64-2)

The bubble will expand when clicked to display your most recently downloaded files, enabling the same quick access that the current toolbar provides, as well as displaying the progression on any active downloads.

According to a recent patch, the downloads button will change color and size to reflect the stage of your download progress, with the icon shrinking and switching from grey to blue while active. An animated progress 'ring' is also in the works, though all of this is still in development so it's unlikely we will see it land onto the stable version of Google Chrome anytime soon.

That same patch also seems to confirm Google's plans to remove the downloads bar from the bottom of the web browser entirely and replace it with this more discreet, bubble model that doesn't hog a section of your display, stating: "Right now we are still showing the download shelf just for reference, but the ultimate goal is to replace the shelf with the bubble in the toolbar."

Analysis: Chrome trying to emulate Microsoft Edge isn't surprising

Poor Microsoft Edge. Despite having some pretty cool features and not demanding a bizarrely high percentage of your device's memory to run, Google Chrome still dominates as the most popular web browser with 63% of the market share.

It's amusing that Chrome has taken inspiration from a competitor like Edge, but Microsoft's own browser is very slowly starting to make some ground, with 4.12% of the overall market share, up from 3.23% YoY.  Those are still small numbers in the grand scheme of things, but it looks like Google will take that growth seriously regardless of its advantage.

We can't especially be mad about it either. The current downloads bar on Google Chrome takes up an unnecessary amount of screen space, with the entire bar appearing and condensing your browser window even if you're only downloading a single image. It'll be nice to not have such an eyesore to deal with if you just want to send a dumb meme to your colleague.

As mentioned, the downloads bubble is still a work in progress so while it looks promising, we will have to wait for it to be completed and included within the consumer-ready stable build of Chrome before we can confidently say it's an improvement, but things certainly look promising for now.

Via Neowin

Jess Weatherbed

Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.