Google is rolling out a series of user interface updates for its Chrome browser on Android tablets as it prepares for the launch of its Pixel Tablet next year. The update started rolling out to a small number of users last week but should reach the majority in the coming days. It includes changes to how Chrome handles tabs on Android, new drag-and-drop functionality, and an option to have the browser always request the desktop (rather than mobile) version of a website.
Google has been making a big effort in recent months to improve the usability of Android apps on large-screen devices like tablets. It announced plans to update over 20 of its own Android apps earlier this year, and it’s also worked to optimize TikTok, Zoom, and Facebook. 9to5Google has a helpful page tracking Google’s tablet app updates as they release.
For starters, Google is revamping how Chrome’s Android tablet app handles tabs. It’s adding a grid interface that makes it easier to see previews of tabs before selecting them and says it’s soon adding a similar tab grouping feature to what’s available on desktop. There’s also a shortcut to quickly switch between the current and previously opened tab and another to quickly reopen a tab if you accidentally close it.
There are also a couple of features that appear to have taken inspiration from Apple’s recent updates to its iPad operating system. Most notably, Chrome’s Android app is getting an option to request the desktop version of a website by default to avoid those awkward situations where you’re browsing a mobile-optimized website on a laptop-size tablet screen. The drag-and-drop functionality that appeared in Docs, Sheets, and Drive earlier this year is now also coming to Chrome, allowing you to drag images, text, and links from the browser into other apps.
Google has been criticized for the state of Android’s tablet app ecosystem for years, but it seems the company’s desire to make its upcoming Pixel Tablet a success — not to mention the continued emergence of large-screen foldable devices — has finally prompted it to make a serious effort to improve things after first teasing the device in May.