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Chrome Custom Tabs Unifies App & Browser Experience

May 28, 2015 - Written By Brian Hillegass

It’s an exciting time to be an Android fan!  Officially announced, Android “M” (the name still mysteriously hidden) will be bringing about a bevy of new futures when it officially reaches large-scale rollout.  Developers who have access to the preview will get to test out the new functionality this revised version of Android hopes to accomplish.  The overarching theme has been one of simplicity and unification.  Google is making every attempt to make the backend of development and the user experience seem connected.  Thus, one of the starting blocks is their core browser Chrome.

Custom Tabs is a new portion of “M” aimed at improving the app/web experience on mobile.  Currently, developers have been equipped with the painstaking task of creating a custom web browser inside their application to achieve a complete experience.  If the developers decides against creating that custom browser, the user is presented with several appropriate applications that will take the place of the absent browser.  The user is then removed from the app, and the experience becomes fragmented.  Now, it becomes a multi-tasking focused experience, and takes away from user simplicity.  Google recognizes this as an issue, and is now providing app developers a stripped down version of Chrome that is easily implemented within their intended experience.  This will hopefully bring a uniform usability that will be pleasurable for both the developer and end user.

Dave Burke, VP of Engineering showed a small sample clip with Google’s friendly partner Pinterest.  Presently, visiting an external pinned link proceeded to push you out of the application, but with Google’s Custom Tabs development project the browser sits on top of the app experience allowing you to click links, purchase, or pin without ever leaving the application.  The other huge advantage to developers adopting this baked in Chrome is user information is pre-stored.  Users will be able to take advantage of saved passwords, Chrome pre-filled information, and all the security features that are present on the standard desktop and mobile browser experience.  All of this should provide Android with better speed, efficiency, and a streamlined app experience. Google hopes to start upgrading devices to Android “M” by Q3 of this year.