Google Chrome introduced
theme support in the developer releases very recently and there were clear hints that there would be an online repository for new themes coming. The gallery
is now live, with a full 29 themes to choose from, some more eye pleasing than others. The themes are only available to those using the 3.x versions of the browser as theme support is very much in the early stages.
While some designs are better than others, the themes fall in the “skin” category, as they don't actually change the layout or design of the functional elements, they just use an image as background for the UI, very much like the new Firefox lightweight theming engine Personas
It's easy to see why Google would choose this path; implementing the feature is much easier for one thing, because Chrome's developers, or rather the UI designers, have gone to great lengths to innovate and pack in the most features in the least amount of space. And with great success too, as Chrome's UI is one of the best for any browser, and it is its biggest asset along with the superior speed, which, in fact, owes as much to the smart design choices as to the underlying technology.
Still, the new themes are a welcomed relief for those getting really tired – and there are quite a few
– of the predominantly blue default theme in Windows XP but also in the development builds for Linux and Mac OS. There are 29 themes available in the online gallery, plus the two
in the chromium source repositories
, and installing them is pretty straightforward with the new theme support. Clicking on the link will bring up a dialog message in Chrome asking users if they want to install the theme.
There are also some, very basic theme management features in the Options menu under the Personal tab, with a “Reset to default theme” button and a “Get new themes” one, which now actually does something, directing the users to the online gallery. This is most likely just the first step and there are more features coming, perhaps even a full-blown theming engine at some point. The latest releases of Google Chrome, from the stable and the developer branches, are available for download here.