Chrome Experiment 'Focus Mode' Force-Turns Every Website Into A PWA

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A new feature spotted in the Chrome Canary Channel could soon help users on any website separate the site out to its own PWA-like window, Techdows reports. Referred to in the Chromium GIt and Chrome's hidden 'flags' menu as "Focus Mode," the feature allows users to context click on a tab and move that to its own window. That seems to move the tab to its own instance of Chrome, forcing it to also appear in the taskbar or shelf under its own icon.

The new update to the developer-friendly beta channel also brings forward another advancement to the previously reported 'tab previews', referred to as hover cards in their latest iteration. Namely, the feature now appears to work more seamlessly, allowing a user to hover their mouse over tabs to get a quick preview of its contents.

While Google is still purportedly working to bring tab grouping features to Chrome, making organizing tabs easier for those who have dozens of tabs or more open, the new feature should provide a nice stopgap for those situations. Focus Mode, to the contrary, will make things easier on those who have multiple tabs open but need to redirect their attention to a single site or page.

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Building on site isolation features for greater productivity

The features are linked by their apparently opposite purposes but the newest of the two, Focus Mode, seems to build on Google's previous work with site isolation. As of as early as Chrome version 66, for at least some users, Chrome has actively separated sites and pages onto their own processes. While that increases RAM usage, it also keeps sites separated from one another to prevent key vulnerabilities from being taken advantage of.

By taking that further and allowing users to instantly move a specific tab to its own window and more explicitly separated instance, Google is basically turning associated bugs that drove site isolation into a feature. It isn't quite the same thing as turning an individual site into a PWA, regardless of whether that's been coded in by developers but it comes very close in terms of user experience.

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In short, it does what its name implies and allows a user to 'focus' on that exact page.

The opposing preview feature enables the opposite, letting users open many tabs without losing complete track of them just because the scale of the UI has dropped below what could summarily be referred to as readability thresholds.

Easy enough to get started

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Gaining access to the feature on any platform — other than Chrome OS, which requires a powerwash and additional steps not recommendable to the average user — is relatively straightforward. A user needs to be on the experimental channels of Google's browser, specifically the Canary variant. So the first step will be to download and install Chrome Canary.

To enable the flag and turn Focus Mode on, users will need to navigate to the somewhat secretive menu via the "chrome://flags" URL before using the on-page search box to find the flag labeled "Focus Mode." That's only going to be available on Mac, Windows, Linux, or Chrome OS for the time being, with no Android version of the feature in sight.

Once enabled and after a restart of Chrome, the feature will add a new item to a right-click context menu associated with any tab, presenting the option to "Focus this tab."

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There's currently no timeline regarding if or when the new feature might find its way over to the Stable Channel.