Google is looking to fix a big issue with the tab group features in Android Chrome. Summarily by stopping the browser from opening new tabs automatically in existing groups. That’s based on a recently reported change in Chrome Beta.
The change in question seems small at first glance. Namely, Google Chrome on Android will no longer automatically open up clicked links in a new tab within a tab group — with the fix in place, they’ll open up as standalone tabs. For users who want to open the link within a tab group, as is the current default, a long-press will be needed. Then users will need to select the “Open in new tab in group” option directly.
What issue does this fix for Chrome Android tab groups?
Now, prior to this change, the tab group feature worked in Chrome Beta precisely as it does in the more commonly-used stable channel.
Namely, users could click or tap a link and Chrome would add the newly opened page to a group. With subsequent taps adding more pages to that same group. The only option in the long-press menu, conversely, was to open the tab in the tab group or in incognito mode. Or, of course, to copy the link and open up manually from the new tab page.
As a result, users would end up with large tab groups that were often difficult to navigate. Especially for those users who weren’t aware of how tab groups worked to begin with.
After the fix found in Google Chrome Beta for Android, the tab group feature won’t work that way anymore. It will default to separated, ungrouped tabs. Users needing to long-press and explicitly request groups, or otherwise actively create them.
When does this change arrive?
As of this writing, users can reportedly try the change out for themselves now. And they can do that simply by downloading the beta version of Google’s top-rated browser directly from the Play Store. So it shouldn’t be too long before this makes an appearance in the stable version of Chrome as well. Potentially as early as Chrome 94, scheduled to arrive around September 14.