Chrome Beta includes simpler tab switcher for low-memory phones

Behind all the visual changes and feature additions, Android 4.4 KitKat is all about optimizing the way Android uses memory, including a new API for handling devices with as little as 512MB of RAM. And it seems this focus has extended to Google's Chrome browser too — Googler François Beaufort points out on Google+ that the latest Chrome Beta includes an alternative tab-switcher for low-RAM phones. As you'll see above, it consists of just a text description and icon, as opposed to a full-page preview.

Beaufort says the new layout is designed to be simpler and is specifically targeted at "low memory KitKat devices." In the current Chrome 31 beta it can be enabled by navigating to chrome://flags/#accessibility-tab-switcher and flipping the switch manually. The idea, presumably, is that when entry-level KitKat phones begin shipping this new tab-switcher will automatically replace the traditional card-based layout, while leaving the standard interface in place on beefier phones like the Nexus 5.

Source: +François Beaufort (opens in new tab)

Alex Dobie
Executive Editor

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.

  • Low memory is always a good thing. Sent from my Motorola side view pager 4-5683-968
  • Been using this on my gnex for a few weeks, leads to fewer crashes in the beta on my device.
  • Am I the only one who likes the alternate tab-switcher better? It looks so much cleaner. Posted via Android Central App
  • Nope. I have a One, which has no problem with performance, but i still prefer this switcher. Been using it for a few weeks and its just SO much cleaner and i find it faster to find the tab i am looking for if i have a lot of tabs open.
  • Can't wait till 4.4, it will make my Moto X's battery last even longer! Posted with my Moto X
  • With all these memory optimizations you would think thy would push kitkat to devices as old as the nexus S to prove their point. Sorry galaxy nexus guys Posted via Android Central App
  • Kit Kat is not about going back to low spec devices, it's about going forward with new ones...that being said, I agree that they should have proved their point, but by launching a new low spec device running 4.4.
  • They will. Its called the Nexus Watch and i bet we will see it at IO next year. But hope it comes before then! ;)
  • They did, they put it on the Nexus 4 Posted via Android Central App
  • TI. Posted from my pure Google Nexus 4 using the AC app.
  • For the love of god, why can't they just swiping over to open your bookmarks. Chrome has to be the least friendly mobile browser in terms of accessing bookmarks.
  • Bookmarks in the desktop version of Chrome are not exactly a treat either. Google must hate bookmarks.
  • ?? I dont understand whats so difficult. Either enable the book marks bar (which is the easiest way IMO) or you have to click on 1 menu... Thats hard? in internet explorer you have to click on a star to get bookmarks (or have a book marks bar), and i am pretty sure its the EXACT same in fire fox.
  • kitkat is for low-memory? so does this mean that old Samsung Galaxy Ace2x (canada) with ICS (it sucks with ics) can be upgraded to kitkat without having JB? we're having trouble with JB, no official upgrade yet.. but i hope kitkat can save the day.
  • Nope Posted via Android Central App
  • I can't seem to find the option. Do I need to have a KitKat device for this option to show up? I am running Chrome Beta 31.0.1650.42 on an LG G2 with 4.2.2
  • Found it under #enable-accessibility-tab-switcher not #accessibility-tab-switcher
  • Using this in the latest Chrome Beta, using KitKat, and I really want to turn it off! How do you turn it off if you don't want it. My phone is so slow the tiny bit of extra lag when switching tabs isn't important