Google is launching a new version of its Chrome Beta browser today thatâ€™s introducing some fairly notable changes to its user interface and design. The browser will introduce an updated New Tab page, which will now include cards directing you back to past web search activities, instead of only a list of shortcuts to favorite websites. Other changes aim to make it easier to navigate search results and to highlight and share quotes from the web.
The New Tab pageâ€™s update will be one of the first changes Chrome beta users may notice.
The idea behind this design change is about getting you back quickly to past web activities without a need to dive into your browsing history to remember which sites you had been using for things like recipes or shopping. It can also help you to return quickly to your recent documents list in Google Drive, in a handy bit of cross-promotion for Google services.
The page will now feature what Google is calling â€œcards,â€ not just links, which could direct you to things like a recently visited recipe site where you had been browsing for ideas, a Google doc you need to finish editing, or a retailerâ€™s website where you had left your shopping cart filled with things you may like to purchase at a later date. The latter ties into Googleâ€™s larger investment in online shopping, which has already seen the search giant trying to grab more market share in the space by making product listings free and partnering with e-commerce platforms like Shopify.
Google is rightly concerned about Amazonâ€™s surging advertising business, which is a large part of the retailerâ€™s â€œOtherâ€ category that grew 87% year-over-year to generate $7.9 billion in the second quarter. Now, itâ€™s capitalizing on Chromeâ€™s New Tab real estate to elevate shopping activity in the hopes of pushing users to complete their transactions.
Another change aims to make it easier to do web research. Google says that often, users searching for something on its platform will navigate to multiple web pages to find their answer. The new version of Chrome will experiment with a different way of connecting users to their search results by adding a row beneath the address bar on Chrome for Android that will show the rest of the results so you can navigate to other web pages without needing to hit the back button.
A new â€œquote cardsâ€ experiment, also coming to Chrome Beta on Android, will allow users to create a stylized image for social sharing that features text found on websites. Taking a screengrab of a websiteâ€™s text is something thatâ€™s already a common activity, and particularly for people who want to share a key point from a news article theyâ€™re reading with followers on platforms like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. With this new feature, youâ€™ll be able to long-press text to highlight it, then tap Share and select a template by tapping on the â€œCreate Cardâ€ option from the menu.
All features are a part of the Chrome Beta browser. To enable experiments, you can type chrome://flags into the browserâ€™s address bar or click on the Experiments beaker icon, and then enable the flags. The associated flags for these experiments are #ntp-modules flag (New Tab page), #continuous-search (search results changes) and #webnotes-stylize flag (quote cards).
Experiments donâ€™t necessarily become Chrome features that roll out more broadly. Instead, they offer Google a way to capture large-scale user feedback about its new design ideas, so the features can be tweaked and fine-tuned before a public release.