Google is rolling out a series of user interface updates for its Chrome browser on Android tablets as it prepares to launch its Pixel tablet next year. The update began rolling out to a small number of users last week, but should reach the majority in the coming days. It includes changes to the way 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.
For starters, Google is revamping the way Chrome’s Android tablet app handles tabs. It adds a grid interface that makes it easier to preview tabs before selecting them and says it will soon add a similar tab grouping feature to what’s available on desktop. There is also a shortcut to quickly switch between the current and previously open tab and another to quickly reopen a tab if you accidentally close it.
There are also a number of features that seem to be inspired by Apple’s recent updates to the iPad operating system. Most notably, Chrome’s Android app gets 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-sized tablet screen. The drag-and-drop functionality that appeared in Docs, Sheets, and Drive earlier this year is now coming to Chrome, allowing you to drag images, text, and links from the browser into other apps.
Google has been criticized for years for the state of the Android tablet app ecosystem, but it seems that the company’s desire to make its upcoming Pixel tablet a success – not to mention the continued rise of large-screen foldable devices — eventually led Google to make a serious effort to make things better after the device’s first teasing in May.