Microsoft and Google update the look of form controls in Chromium browsers

New look available now in Edge, and coming soon to Chrome.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Chromium's old look (left) and restyled controls (right)

Image: Google

Microsoft's contributions to the Chromium browser it uses for its newest Edge releases are already having a visible impact on the Google-controlled browser.

The two tech giants have been working for the past year on a new theme for form controls -- that is the buttons, fields, and input elements -- that are standard across the web.

"One issue with native form controls ... is the inconsistency in their styling. Older controls, such as <button> and <select> were styled to match the user's operating system," Chrome developer advocate Rob Dodson wrote in a blog post.

"Form controls that were added to the platform more recently were designed to match whatever style was popular at the time. For Chromium based browsers, this has led to controls that look mismatched and sometimes outdated, which causes developers to spend extra time (and ship extra code) styling around the controls' default appearance."

The changes will include a two-line focus indicator that works across a greater variety of backgrounds to indicate which element has focus, updated input types such as date which the companies claim will be more touch-friendly for 2-in-1 users, and the colour input type will now be able to be fully manipulated purely from the keyboard.

Users who want to see the new controls in action can see them in Edge, or through using the chrome://flags/#form-controls-refresh flag in the delayed Chrome 81, otherwise they can wait for it to appear as standard in Chrome 83 for desktop users.  

Mobile users of Chrome will need to wait for the amorphous "later this year" timing.

Next, Microsoft and Google will work on making form controls easier to style, Dodson said.

After delaying its Chrome 81 release last week due to coronavirus, Google said it would release Chrome 81 on April 7, while Chrome 82 has been scrapped, and Chrome 83 would appear in the middle of May.

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