Google begins rollout of tab groupings in Chrome for Android

The new interface shows tabs in a grid layout, and includes the option to group them.
Screenshot: Chrome

Chrome’s Android app is being updated with a new interface for switching tabs, and a new tab grouping feature to help organize open web pages, 9to5Google reports. The new interface and functionality has reportedly been appearing for some users after the release of version 88 of Chrome last month, but doesn’t appear to be live for everyone just yet.

The grid layout replaces the previous interface consisting of a vertical list of tabs, and is similar to Chrome’s existing iOS tab interface. Around six tabs are shown onscreen at a time, and these can be swiped to the left or right to close them. Incognito tabs can be accessed via a small icon on the top of the screen.

When browsing a tab that’s part of a group, shortcuts to switch to other grouped tabs appear at the bottom of the app.
Screenshot: Chrome

Tab groups, meanwhile, are similar to a feature that’s been available on Chrome’s desktop version since last year, and offer a more convenient way to organize your tabs. Grouping tabs also gives you a new shortcut to hop between tabs in the same group via a menu that appears at the bottom of the app. On Android you can organize tabs into groups from the grid layout screen by dragging them onto one another, and there are also options to form tab groups in the overflow menu, as well as the context menu that opens when you long-press to open a new tab.

Although 9to5Google notes that the features started rolling out last week, they don’t appear to be available for every Chrome user just yet. However, you can manually enable them via Chrome’s experimental flags. We found we were able to get them to appear by navigating to chrome://flags in the address bar, and then searching and enabling the “Tab Grid Layout,” “Tab Groups,” “Tab Groups Continuation,” and “Tab Groups UI Improvements” options. We found we had to restart Chrome twice to get the new interface to appear.

Comments

Huh, I had to do a double take when I read the headline. I noticed this happen on my phone for a while now, going back into December for sure. I remember being a bit perplexed the first time I went to open a new tab and it defaulted to this new grouping. It’s taken me some getting used to I have to admit. I’m a bit surprised the feature made it to my phone before a general roll out, they really must pick at random

I’ve had this feature for quite some time too. Still a little jarring but it’s handy to have the little icons at the bottom within a tab group.

The article mentions some users have had it since last month, but I’ve had it much longer on my Pixel 4. Probably since around the Android 11 rollout in September if I had to guess.

I’ve had it since ~April on the Moto G3 that I use for an alarm clock.

Sort of related to the article – but I’ve been using Samsung’s Browser over the last couple years, switching from Chrome – I find it pretty good. On par in terms of features, and I feel like it’s a bit quicker as well. I’d say the best mobile browser I’ve used actually. Though it has been a few years since I’ve used Chrome on my phone, so it might have surpassed Samsung’s one.

Agreed, Samsung browser is so much better/faster on Android than Chrome.

The little bar at the bottom is a big improvement! I hate having to reach my thumb up to the top to switch tabs.

Bar at the bottom is cool, but overall it’s a terrible feature. Opening a new tab creates a group, rather than just opening it separately. It’s counter intuitive, weird to swipe cards away and overall just annoying that there is such a major change out of the blue. Disabling it is also hidden in some settings you have to access by typing in a special URL.

I love how in 9to5 article every comment negative about the "feature". I completely share their frustration. Inconsistent UI, awful functionality that breaks my browsing habits. It so aggressively pushed you cannot simply don’t use it. Instead of continue moving UI down where you can actually use it with one hand Google decided to do something extremely bad. As if they decided to kill off Chrome and just pushing their users away…

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