Some of the biggest Chrome features spotted over the past several months are now going live in the update to version M77, enabling a better user experience across all platforms, the Google Chrome team has announced. This is a related but still separate set of changes from the standard update to Chrome 77 already reported on. That's because "M"-designated updates are milestone updates that affect everybody from enterprise to Android users.
Among the noteworthy additions is the recently added ability to send tabs between syncing devices across an account. But, as detailed in Google's announcement of the new features that have arrived and are arriving with Chrome M77, this update is bringing a plethora of other user-facing alterations too. The features range from those for desktop platforms to those for mobile but should prove useful regardless of the platform is used.
A new way to customize Chrome from the update to version M77
For now, most of the updates are going to center around productivity and Google says further changes are still in the works going forward. But one of the first that users will probably want to take advantage of is Chrome's new customization options.
The new customizations aren't entirely new since they were spotted earlier this year in Canary and other beta channels. The biggest difference is that Google no longer has those tucked away behind the browser's experimental settings. Instead, users just need to tap or click the customize button on desktop platforms. That's located at the bottom-right-hand side of the new tab page UI.
That action calls forward a new customization menu for adjusting shortcuts on the page and the background image.
Tab management is getting easier, regardless of how you Chrome
Managing a plethora of tabs on mobile or desktop can be difficult but Google is looking to make that much easier whether on desktop or mobile.
First, Google is changing the scrolling list view shown on mobile when users view open tabs via the numbered tab icon at the top of the UI. The change falls in line with one spotted in experimental settings some time back. Open tabs will now be shown in a grid, complete with a title and a thumbnail showing the most recent iteration of the page opened.
Those tabs can also be long-pressed and dragged on top of another to create a group of pages. When organized that way, tab group titles are replaced with a readout of the number of tabs in the group. Within a group, a bottom bar-based tabs switcher UI will now show page icons for tabs within the grouping. Users will scroll and tap those icons to move through them.
Desktop platforms aren't getting that feature. Or at least they aren't yet. Instead, users will notice that a card UI now crops up when they hover their mouse over a tab. The UI shows the page title and, in the future, will show a thumbnail too. That means users won't need to rely on icons alone or the presently-used 'hint' UI, which can be difficult to read.
Those changes should start landing on users' devices over the "coming weeks" on Android. Desktop users should start seeing the new UI much sooner.
Expanding on tools powered by search
Google Chrome has been able to provide a lot of helpful information directly in the search bar — or "Omnibox" — for quite some time. For instance, users can search for a word and include the word "define" or a similar term. Google will display the definition without ever having to hit the "Enter" key. That appears just below the search query itself directly in the Omnibox.
The browser can provide any number of similar functions using search too. Each is discoverable with just a bit of exploration, serving up useful facts without the need to perform a full search of the web. But, up until this point, that's been relegated to desktop platforms, whether Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, or macOS.
Now, Google is expanding on what that feature does and bringing it to mobile at the same time.
With the update, users can effectively ask the search bar questions in line with how Google Assistant works. For example, users can ask for a "Definition of Tyrannosaurus," Google says. The response will return without pressing "Enter." They can continue the search by asking "How long ago did Tyrannosaurus Rex Live?" and receive an answer for that too without performing a full search.
That functionality now stretches across a number of topics from local weather to translations, sports, and more.
More traditional page translations will now be easier to accomplish too. Those will appear via a prompt in the Omnibox by default. The prompt will ask users if they want to translate the page when it's in a different language. It will also offer options to "always" translate.
Translation features have already been in place for some users too. But will now be easier to control automatically across 100 languages. On mobile, those will be in the three-dot Chrome menu.