Google recently added a built-in browser to the Google app on Android. Now, just a few months later, it looks like the search giant is taking it back out.
As reported by 9to5Google, Google spent a few months building an in-app browser solution for the Google app. In April, that built-in browser replaced the previous solution, which opened links in a Chrome Custom Tab. Custom tabs, for those unfamiliar, are a way for apps to load webpages using a browser like Chrome without kicking users into a separate app.
It remains unclear why Google felt the need to build an in-app browser when the Chrome Custom Tab system worked well. Perhaps the company felt it would provide better performance, or a more unified experience. For example, the in-app browser included a button for saving pages to the Google app’s ‘Collections’ feature.
Regardless of the motive, the system came with several problems. Because the in-app browser was separate from Chrome, users’ cookies, logins and other browsing data didn’t carry over. Another annoyance was that if users decided to open the website in Chrome — something they could do from the menu button — the process was slower because the phone had to switch to the Chrome app and then load the site again.
9to5Google points out that Google’s built-in browser lacked other useful tools like ‘Find in page,’ Translate and more.
However, Google app beta version 11.17, which arrived earlier this week, disabled the in-app browser option for several users. Additionally, the ‘Browser’ settings menu was removed from the app for those people. Despite the change, not everyone saw the in-app browser go away. Still, hopefully the change means Google will eventually go back to using the Chrome Custom Tabs for everyone soon.
To check if you’re using a custom tab, tap the three-dot menu button in the top right corner after opening a webpage through the Google app. At the bottom of that menu should be text that reads ‘Powered by Chrome.’