Google Search and Discover no longer opens sites in full screen

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

When opening a search result or Discover article (both the Google app feed and Discover links), websites now open in a sheet with a piece of the current background.

In Search, you either get the Google logo when you tap the first result or the field with your search as the background. This could be Google’s way of preserving navigation context and reminding people that there are more results.

Meanwhile, this webpage is still a custom Chrome tab, with Google reminding you that “Chrome is running” at the top until the page is fully loaded. You’ll still get a close button on the far left, while share, save, and the overflow menu wrap things up. There is a pull tab at the very top that allows you to swipe down to remove, while extending the leaf in the opposite direction so that the background is hidden.

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

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

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