After its most recent update, the Google app now opens search results as Chrome Custom Tabs. This feature has been a long time coming, but it appears that pages suggested by Google Now still open up in the default browser.
The Google app using Chrome Custom Tabs was seen as far back as the Android M Developer Preview and periodically in A/B tests. By default, links from search results now open as a Custom Tab that features a blue action bar with options to Share, Copy link, Find in page, and Open in Chrome.
Chrome Custom Tabs load much quicker when compared to having a link open in a browser. They also have the benefit of saved passwords, auto-fill, and other Chrome features. Apps like Google+ and Twitter have already adopted Custom Tabs.
Users can go to Settings > Accounts & privacy to toggle off the new ‘Open web pages in app’ option if they prefer opening all links the old way. Interestingly, links that appear as Google Now cards still open in Chrome. Other changes in version 5.12 of the Google app include a new Assist option that brings up Now on Tap when a user highlights text in any app. This particular feature only works on devices running Android 6.0 and above, while Custom Tabs also works on Lollipop and bellow.
The Google app’s Play Store listing has also been renamed to “Google — made for mobile” and features updated screenshots.