[Update: Back] Google app beta loses built-in browser and returns to Chrome Custom Tabs

[Update: Back] Google app beta loses built-in browser and returns to Chrome Custom Tabs

Google has been working on an Android in-app browser to support Search on Android for some time. It was widely distributed to beta channels over the past few months, and then it vanished.

Update 7/10: Google App version has the built-in browser back. Chrome Custom Tabs were unfortunately removed. This update was strangely released on Saturday.

Original 7/6: Google started work in late 2019 on a custom browser used by the Google app. It first went live in April last year. It disappeared briefly at the beginning of July 2020 but returned at the end of that month. It’s been available to beta users since then.

Google app beta users won’t see the customized experience as defined visually by an app/top or bottom bar, effective tonight. The top of the screen displays a four-color logo with a light strip and the “G” symbol. After a few seconds, it will animate into the domain. The controls at the bottom allow you to go back/forward and share.

The overflow menu offers various options, including Refresh, Translate, Find in Page, Translate, and many more. With the company being able to do more, “Read aloud,” this was the key feature. However, it is not clear how widespread Google tested/surfaced this in-app browser for users of stable channels.

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In-app browser

Google is still using the Chrome Custom Tab implementation to support beta users. This allows for a more consistent experience with third-party apps like Twitter and lets you quickly “Open in Chrome” to save your scroll position. For simple browsing, you can also stay signed in to your existing sites.

This is the same approach for Google app 12.25 beta and 12.26 beta. You can force-stop the application, and links will open in Custom Tabs soon after.

Google should either stick to CCT or offer the option of using the same browser. For example, you can disable the customer experience and have all links open in Chrome (after one second of app switching).