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The latest Google Chrome unstable (dev channel) for Linux was updated recently, getting the Aura UI stack, Notification Center and App Launcher back.


The Aura UI, Notification Center and App Launcher were added to Chrome for Linux a couple of months ago but they was removed shortly after that. 

Aura, the new graphical stack for Chrome, was initially used on Chrome OS, then on Chrome for Windows and Mac and now it's finally also available for the Chrome Linux browser.

Aura handles the rendering, compositing and so on, using the GPU when possible. For technical details, see THIS page.

Update: February 6, 2014: these features were removed once again from Google Chrome Unstable for Linux (version: 34.0.1825.4-1). Hopefully they will return soon.

Update February 27, 2014: the Aura UI along with the Notification Center, App Launcher, etc. are one again available in the latest Google Chrome Dev Channel Linux builds (Version 35.0.1862.2 dev aura):

Google Chrome Unstable 35 Aura Ubuntu


Chrome Notification Center


With this update, Chrome (unstable) for Linux uses rich notifications: they can display formatted text, images and include direct actions so for instance you can directly reply to an email - well, at least in theory because I couldn't get any interactive notifications to work, for instance Gmail refused to display notifications for new messages for some reason.

Chrome Notification Center with Google Now cards on Ubuntu
Also, the Notification Center that first appeared on Windows and Mac is now available for Linux. This is a place that keeps track of your unread notifications so you don't miss any important notifications. On Linux, the Notification Center uses a tray icon / appindicator, allowing you to see the unread emails or set the notifications in a "Do not disturb" mode:


From the Chrome Notification Center you can select which website / application is allowed to send desktop notifications:


Another cool new feature that's now available in Chrome (unstable) for Linux is the addition of Google Now cards (see screenshot with Chrome Notification Center above). Basically, if you use Google Now on your mobile device, you can now see the Now cards on your Desktop. That only works if you're signed into Chrome obviously, and the notifications can include weather, commute traffic, event reminders and so on.

The Google Chrome Notification Center should be enabled by default if you're using the latest unstable build.


Chrome App Launcher


Another new feature that landed on Linux with this update is the App Launcher. The App Launcher displays your Chrome apps and extensions in a menu that's available outside the browser. You can even pin it to the Unity launcher as you can see in the screenshot below:



The App Launcher is currently not enabled by default on Chrome (unstable) for Linux. To activate it, open chrome://flags in Chrome, search for "Enable the app launcher" and enable it, then restart the browser.

Then, to get the menu to show up, install a Chrome packaged app from the web store (it must be installed from "For Your Desktop").

If you already had some Chrome packaged apps installed, the App Launcher won't show up. To get it to show up, either use a new, clean profile or simply uninstall all the Chrome packaged apps you may have installed, then follow the steps above.


Download Google Chrome unstable (dev channel)



Download Google Chrome (make sure you select "Dev channel" when downloading)

Normally, if you've installed any version of Chrome, you should already have the Google repository added to your sources, so if you use Ubuntu, simply running an update should allow you to install the latest Google Chrome Unstable:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install google-chrome-unstable
Note that installing Google Chrome dev channel on Linux will remove Chrome stable / beta.
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