Browse Faster With Chrome’s Hidden Android Tab Strip

Browse Faster With Chrome’s Hidden Android Tab Strip

I’m a tab junkie, but what keeps my Android version of Chrome neat and clean is the fact that switching between different websites I’ve opened up is an annoying, ugly affair. Instead of a lovely-looking tab, you must click on  an ugly box that then dumps out all of your open pages like a staggered stack of cards in solitaire.

Assuming you don’t just swipe left and right on your address bar to switch between your tabs, there’s potentially an even better UI for sorting through your open websites. In the latest Chrome Beta for Android, Google is testing out a new feature that lets you use icons to navigate your many open websites via the bottom of the app’s UI. It’s a much-better-looking implementation that you can get in both the Chrome Beta and Chrome Stable releases. (Chrome Stable requires a slight extra workaround that we’ll discuss at the end of this article.)

To get started with the easier method, download Chrome Beta and navigate to this URL via your address bar: chrome://flags/#enable-conditional-tabstrip

Screenshot: David Murphy
Screenshot: David Murphy

Enable that flag, relaunch Chrome, and you should see the new tab strip at the bottom of your browser. If not — I didn’t — keep using the browser as you normally would. Android Police reports that it might take some time for said strip to pop up, if it does at all.

If not, you can also force the issue using a slightly more complex method. Go back to your Chrome Flags and search for/enable the following:

  • Tab Groups
  • Tab Groups UI Improvements
  • Conditional Tab Strip

Open up a new tab, then open a second tab, and tap on the box with the “2″ in it in the upper-right corner of your browser. Drag one tab over the top of the other tab so it merges into a tab group (rather than replaces the order of the tab), which will look like this:

Screenshot: David Murphy
Screenshot: David Murphy

Now, when you open and close websites within this tab group, you’ll see the aforementioned new navigation at the bottom of your browser. It’s a crude workaround for the time being, but it works! And this is also the workaround for enabling the tab strip on Chrome’s Stable channel — the regular app you’re using on your Android, no beta needed. Make sure you turn on the Tab Groups, Tab Groups UI Improvements and Tab Grid Layout flags, or it won’t work.

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