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Google is changing Chrome’s lock icon because nobody knows what it means

A screenshot of The Verge homepage on Chrome desktop. A red circle can be seen over the lock icon in the browser URL bar.
Some of you likely do know what this lock icon represents, but most Chrome users apparently don’t. | Image: The Verge

The padlock icon indicating website security has appeared in the URL bar of web browsers for so long that it’s practically become part of the furniture at this point — which is exactly why Google is planning to retire it from Chrome later this year. On Tuesday, the search giant announced that the lock will be replaced by a new “tune” icon with the release of Chrome 117 in September as part of a wider Material You-themed redesign of the browser.

The reasons for the update go beyond just “prettying” up Chrome: Google claims that in a study it conducted in 2021, only 11 percent of participants actually understood the intended purpose of the lock icon. It first appeared back in the ’90s following Netscape’s introduction of HTTPS, a protocol…

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