Tab grouping features in the Android variant of Google Chrome have now been spotted getting a much-needed usability improvement that will make organizing and navigating open groups easier. Found only in the Canary and Developer release 'Channels' of the browser and tucked behind a flag setting, the new feature is subtle but essentially takes away clicks involved in moving between pages in a given tab group.
Prior to the update, users were required to open-up a bottom bar UI to access tabs within a select group. To move between tabs that are housed in separate groups, that meant opening up the tabs interface and clicking the desired group so that the first tab from that group could be loaded up. Once that tab is loaded, users could then use the above-mentioned interface to get the appropriate tab within the group.
Now, tapping on the second group will bring up a grid view of the tabs in that group instead of defaulting to loading up a page in that group and requiring additional taps to get to a specific tab. The UI is similar to that already seen in the pull-up card for selecting individual tabs within a group but hovers over the page instead of being lifted from the bottom.
Not everybody has access to this yet
As with the previously released feature, tab grouping with the new improvements requires the activation of a new flag setting in the hidden menu found at the "chrome://flags" URL. Anybody who wants to try this out will need to have downloaded the Chrome Canary or Chrome Developer app on their Android device too since it hasn't arrived in the Stable Channel just yet
As expected, there are a few secondary requisite flags that need to be enabled first. Those include the "Tab Grid Layout" flag, in addition to the "Tab Groups" and "Tab Groups UI Improvements" flags. Each of those can be found by using the search bar at the top of the Chrome Flags page.
The only flag there that isn't found in the current stable version of Chrome for Android — Chrome 74 — is the 'UI Improvements' flag so users can check out the feature in standard Google Chrome without using the extra experimental versions of the app too. That variant simply won't have the newly added easy-access features in place.
Because the testing is currently underway for Chrome 76, it isn't unlikely that the new UI adjustments will be found in the stable release of that version of the app. It might also find its way onto the Beta Channel of Chrome or behind a flag setting in Chrome 75, although that isn't as likely to be the case.
The latter of those updates is just over a week away and scheduled to launch on June 4. Chrome 76 is just over 60 days away, slated for Jul 30. That gives Googlers plenty of time to make sure that bugs are squashed and the risk of new vulnerabilities mitigated as much as possible.
That doesn't guarantee that a final version will be available on the Stable Channel by that point since there are still plenty of improvements that could be made — including the ability to rename or sort tabs for easier recognition at a glance. It does bring the feature much closer to completion.