Google Search and Discover no longer open sites in full screen mode

In a curious change, the Google search app and Discover on Android no longer open sites in full screen, but instead use a table.

When you open a search result or Discover article (both in the Google app feed and on the left side of Discover), websites now open in a table that shows some of the current background.

In the search, you get either the Google logo if you tap the first result, or a field with your query in the background. This may be Google’s way of preserving navigational context and reminding people that there are more results.

In the meantime, this web page is still a custom tab in Chrome, and Google reminds us that it is “Running Chrome” at the top until the page loads completely. You’ll still get a close button on the far left when you share, Save, and an overflow menu rounds things out. There’s a pull tab at the top that lets you swipe down to dismiss, while swiping in the opposite direction expands the sheet to hide the background.

In terms of usability, you lose some vertical space, but it doesn’t affect the reading experience that much. At the same time, Google Search/Discover is smart about what opens in a table and what goes full screen. For example, an ESPN video automatically opened with previous behavior for a better viewing experience.

We’re seeing this change on a handful of Pixel phones running Google app 13.37, which is currently in beta. It’s unclear how widely this change has been rolled out or if it’s just an A/B test.

Thank you RKBDI!

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