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[Update: New combined Single Surface UI] Chrome tab switcher gets 'Explore' tab in new UI experiment

Android Police 2019-08-14 08:17:16


Google's recommended articles already exist in the Google app, the far left page of most app launchers, the New Tab page in Chrome for Android, and on the mobile google.com homepage. In case you need yet another place to find your favorite clickbait articles or mildly-relevant news, you might soon see them in Chrome for Android's tab switcher.

One of the latest interface experiments being tested in Chrome Dev and Canary is the 'Two Panes Start Surface,' which adds an 'Explore' tab to Chrome's tab switcher. The new screen is identical to what is already available from Chrome's New Tab page, at least in its current form, and the rest of the browser seems to be untouched.

If you want to try it out for yourself, install Chrome Canary or Dev and set #enable-two-panes-start-launcher in chrome://flags to 'Enabled.' You also have to set Chrome Duet (#enable-chrome-duet) to 'Disabled' and the tab grid layout (#enable-tab-grid-layout) to 'Enabled'.

While Google's recommended articles are undoubtedly useful to many people, it is becoming almost comical how they're being shoehorned into more apps and services. The feature is still an experiment that might never roll out to all users, so I won't be too harsh, but I am looking forward to recommended articles in the Camera app.



Update 1: 2019/08/14 8:20am PDT by Ryne Hager

Google is now testing an interface that combines the look of the grid tab switcher with the article list in the "Explore" tab:

Spotted by our friends at 9to5Google, the option is enabled via a new "Single Surface" flag setting for the renamed Start Surface feature in about:flags. The old two-tab layout is still available, but the flag option for that is now  "Two Panes Surface."

With the new layout, at most you can see 2-3 tabs at a time. Curiously, tapping "Hide" doesn't actually give the tab switcher any more space for your open tabs, it simply collapses the recommended article view. Presumably we'll see further tweaks for this combined layout test in the future.

End of Update