Last month, Chrome for Android began testing a horizontal tab switcher in the experimental Dev channel. It was very similar to the current design and reflected the rumored changes coming to Android P’s Recents menu. Chrome is now testing a tab switcher that is more in line with Developer Preview 2 from I/O 2018.
The horizontal tab switcher first appeared with Chrome 67. Currently in the beta channel, this design is very similar to the existing vertical layout as cards still overlap with one another, thus obscuring content.
In Chrome Dev, the design is slightly tweaked. The cards are still overlapping, but the background is now stark white in line with Chrome’s Modern Design flag. There is also a new Incognito icon in the top-right corner next to the number of tabs you have open.
Given the horizontal layout, sites in private browsing are no longer displayed in columns next to each other, but rather as rows stacked on top of each other with a cool sliding effect when tapping the Incognito button.
Earlier this week in Chrome Canary, Google redesigned the tab switcher so that cards no longer overlap. Spotted today, this results in a near identical view to Android P’s app switcher where cards are completely separated from one another, thus allowing for a clear view of the entire page.
This is particularly useful for viewing the full contents of a website. Meanwhile, sites can be closed by swiping up/down on them, like on P.
Chrome 68.0.3438.2 from Wednesday was the first to feature this new design, with version 68.0.3440.0 released today maintaining it. The new look is still under development as some animations like opening a new tab still reflect the previous vertical layout. To try it out, enable the follow flag in Chrome 67 or 68. However, the Android P style requires the latest version of Canary.
It’s unclear when this horizontal tab switcher will be fully enabled as even the finished Modern Design look with rounded UI elements and stark white backgrounds has yet to launch. Meanwhile, Google abandoned Chrome Home in February and Chrome Duplex is still in the works.
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