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After months of work, the Google app in late April started testing an in-app browser for opening Discover articles and Search results. It saw a wider rollout a few weeks later, but Google now looks to be reverting to the previous Chrome Custom Tab implementation.

The in-app browser is heavily themed with a Google logo briefly appearing in the top bar and a prominent loading animation. The domain name and HTTPS status is listed above, while there’s a save icon (for Collections), share, and overflow button to the right. That menu houses options for refreshing and opening the page in your default browser.

Unlike a standard Chrome Custom Tab, this in-app browser does not carry over your cookies or logged-in states, and requires a separate settings page for clearing browser data. For that reason alone, many find the in-app solution to be quite inconvenient. Another hassle is how sending a page to the full Chrome app is not instantaneous like before and requires a full reload. Lastly, you lose useful shortcuts like Find in page, Desktop site, and Translate.

Even though you can disable the option to “Open web pages in Google app,” the experience of using the full Chrome browser — instead of a Custom Tab implementation — is slower. You’re essentially switching from the Google app to the full Chrome browser for every URL.

With the Google app 11.17 beta — where we also got our first glimpse at a redesigned Lens — earlier this week, there are a handful of reports about this in-app browser disappearing. The first time users open a link after updating they’re greeted with the traditional offering, while “Browser” settings have been removed from the General menu.

That said, most — even on the latest beta — still have the in-app browser. However, it’s hopefully a sign that the Google app will soon revert to the old experience for all users.

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: