Over the past year, Google has been encouraging developers to optimize their apps for tablets and foldables. After having done so, Chrome has seen an 18x increase in multi-window usage on large screen devices.

Citing an increased desire from users to multitask on mobile, the Chrome team focused on being able to open multiple browser windows side-by-side.

Many Chrome users have been requesting more productivity features on their mobile, tablet, and foldable devices to better match the capabilities of Chrome on desktop. To meet these needs, the team decided to invest in building features that encourage multitasking capabilities.

This involved taking advantage of the 12L taskbar and Samsung edge panel, while finding that “people could comfortably use up to five windows side by side on large screen devices.” 

They wanted to balance allowing people to use many windows at once with making sure the feature was still usable. The team researched usability best practices, observed other multi-window experiences on large screen devices, and thought through limitations to ensure optimal device memory usage.

To make the ability to have multiple instances of Chrome discoverable, Google introduced a “New window” button, which is also found on iPads, in the overflow menu, as well as a “Manage windows” UI to quickly view what’s open. That shortcut led to the 18x increase in Chrome multi-window usage. Additionally:

This is a new feature, and the Chrome team has already seen that multi-instance for the Chrome app is used 42% more on tablets and foldables than on phones that support the feature. This usage demonstrates the functionality resonated well with Chrome users on large screen devices, and that it was worth investing in building these features to enhance the experience for Chrome users on large screens.

Moving forward, Google plans to “further improve the Chrome experience on large screens” with unspecified tweaks. 

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com