Apple steals not one, but two Chrome features for the iPhone’s iOS 15 Safari redesign

Apple claimed at WWDC this year that Safari is the “world’s fastest browser” — note that not everyone agrees with that, and if the company’s claim is true, it’s at the cost of not supporting the modern internet and PWA-hostile policies, but you do you Apple. Separately from speed-ranking titles, Safari is also stealing two pretty handy features from Chrome on mobile platforms. As part of a cross-platform redesign that includes iOS 15, Safari will pick up Chrome’s swipe-to-switch-tabs feature, plus Chrome’s grid tab view. Safari is also getting tab grouping like Chrome, but it sounds like the iPhone will skip that party.

Of course, iOS 15’s new tab bar for iPhones changes how things work a little bit. Instead of being a big thing at the top of the screen, as it is on most platforms, Apple’s making Safari’s new tab bar a floating element at the bottom of the screen that appears with a tap and disappears as you scroll — you know, kind of like it already did when it was at the top, but now with a trigger that might conflict with site content and a new location.

The new swipe to change tabs feature, as a result, works pretty much the same as it does on Chrome, just in a different spot: down at the bottom of your screen, rather than the top. Swipe left and right to move between tabs, and swipe up for a new grid view that also looks like it was taken straight from Chrome for iOS and Android, which Google was testing in Chrome since 2019, and which works with the company’s tab groups.

Never seen this before. 

On that note, Safari is also getting tab groups, similar to Chrome’s multiplatform feature, but based on the appearance Apple showed off at WWDC, it looks and works a little differently, with labels in your tab bar and a side menu. Tab groups sync across platforms as well, so you don’t have to worry about extensions or synchronizing stuff, and you can even share them with others, though it sounds like tab grouping won’t be coming to iPhones, based on the context of the announcement.

On that note, extensions are also coming to Safari for iOS and iPad, which is pretty snazzy.

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