[U: Again] Google app restores custom Chrome tabs

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Google has been working on an in-app browser for Android search for some time. After being widely rolled out to the beta channel over the past few months, it has disappeared and reverted back to Chrome custom tabs.

Update 9/21: Version 12.37 gets rid of Chrome custom tabs again.


Update 9/16: With beta version 12.36 this week, the Google app has once again reverted to custom Chrome tabs.


Update 8/1: For a period of two weeks, Chrome custom tabs remained for users of the beta version of the Google app. This has changed in recent days, as the integrated version is currently being rolled out again.


Update 7/19: Over the weekend, a server-side update to the Google app 12.27 oddly restored Chrome’s custom tabs and this change persisted with the latest beta 12.28.


Update 7/10: With version 12.26.10.29 of the Google app, the built-in browser is back and the Chrome custom tabs have unfortunately been removed again. The update was very strangely deployed on a Saturday.


Original 7/6: At the end of 2019, Google began work on a custom browser for the Google app that first appeared live to users in April of last year. He briefly disappeared in early July 2020 before returning at the end of that month. Since then it has been widely available for beta users.

As of tonight, Google app beta users no longer see the personalized experience visually defined by an app / top and bottom bar. When you tap a link from the Discover feed or search results, a four-color “G” logo and light strip appear at the top of the screen. It comes alive in the site area after a few seconds, while the controls at the bottom let you go back / forward and share.

An overflow menu contains a multitude of options including: Refresh, Find in page, Translate, etc. The key feature available here was “Read Aloud” as the company could do more. It is unclear how well Google has tested / surfaced the in-app browser for stable channel users.

Browser integrated into the application

Either way, Google – for now – is back to implementing the Chrome Custom Tab for beta users. This allows for a much more consistent experience with third-party apps, like Twitter, and lets you “Open in Chrome” quickly without having to reload the page, thus preserving your scrolling position. You also stay connected to all your existing sites for easy navigation.

This old approach exists for the 12.25 Google app and the newly released 12.26 beta. If you force quit the app, the links will start opening in custom tabs shortly after.

Hopefully Google sticks to the CCT or offers the option to use this identical browser. The only option with the personalized experience in testing is to turn it off and open all links (after a second of switching apps) in the default browser (Chrome) you have.

Chrome custom tabs

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