Phone sitting on book with the Google Chrome logo

Safari is getting a new collaborative feature that I desperately want Chrome to steal

Following Apple’s WWDC conference, I was struck by one particular feature announced by the company: shared tab groups. Past all the new hardware, the revival of lock screen widgets, Apple’s newfound love for customization – beyond all of that, this dumb little feature strikes me as something that has the potential to have a real impact in a thousand tiny and unforeseen ways. With how minor but potentially far-reaching this sounds, I don’t understand how Google didn’t think of this first for Chrome, and hopefully we’ll get it soon.

For those who didn’t tune in, during its WWDC keynote today, Apple announced a bunch of software features for upcoming iPhone, iPad and Mac updates – pretty much the whole point of the annual event. One of the features the company touched on a few times during the presentation was a cross-platform tool that lets people share groups of tabs between people for simultaneous access, with Google Docs style flags for know who is watching what. Simple shortcuts let you message, call, or video chat with the people you share the group with for deeper collaboration. It’s trivially simple, as the best features usually are.


It’s so simple and specific that it’s hard to call it disruptive, but the potential use cases seem staggering. Relatively obviously, this could be handy when working from home, sharing a set of tabs with additional information in a group before a presentation, or when working on a project together, with everyone having access to all of the same information. together. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine how convenient it could be for coordinating a group trip somewhere, selecting flights, hotels, and activities on one shared browser. It looks like tab history can also be shared with the feature, and it could be used for other avenues of research or in any case where you need members of a team to be on the same page – literally .

The utility expands; Educators share a set of tabs with students as they study from home or work together in class; new roommates choosing furniture at Ikea; partners looking together for a big purchase – a house, a car, a new refrigerator. Combine that with killer PWAs (Apple’s big blind spot), and the potential apps explode. You can host a D&D party sharing character sheets while the DM brings up a map, organize additional materials for a remote town meeting with the meeting itself, you can even create a full teamwork environment right in a browser, as long as the tools they all need can be placed in a tab.

This little feature, which was mentioned several times on the iPad, iPhone and Mac in Apple’s announcement, seems like a quiet revolution in the way we use the web together. And while using it in tandem with things like PWAs imposes engineering challenges (depending on how you want them to be used), it seems that precisely a feature that Google would like to add to Chrome.

“This feature is an almost obvious combination of Googly stuff, but Apple did it first.”

The collaborative comparison with Google Docs is obvious, simply in terms of operation, with similar indicators for who is looking at what. And Chrome’s whole schtick is its cross-platform utility, syncing all your bookmarks, browsing history, passwords, settings, and more between devices. This feature is an almost obvious combination of Googly stuff, but Apple did it first.

There are Chrome extensions that can bridge the gap, but they don’t work quite the same way – or at least none of the ones I’ve found do. While you can blast your friends with a collection of tabs, there is no real-time collaboration. You can share your screen through a number of different methods, but they’re not the same either.

Apple’s impetus to create a tool like this is clearly tied to its incredible efforts to integrate all of its various platforms into one massive set of ecosystem-based tools – Continuity, as Apple calls it. To this day, it’s just something I’ve quietly envied. In the Google and Android camp, there’s an unfortunate platform mismatch, where customers who choose to use Windows or a Mac as their computing device simply can’t get the same level of platform integration. form and functionality. The Android companion experience is better on a Chromebook, but it’s not a workflow that suits everyone, and even then it feels like Google is just catching up. But this is a limitation that does not apply; Google already has a deep platform advantage to implement a tool like this. Chrome is everywhere, from Apple to Microsoft platforms, from iOS to Android. This is the most popular browser in the world.

The feature announcement at WWDC.

It’s the same kind of collaboration applied to web browsing, and it could easily be brought back to the loop. A feature like this could be integrated into Google Workspace, not for monetization, but for even greater productivity enhancements, connecting to Docs, Drive, and Slides to provide additional functionality, or even just integrating with them. services – Google loves its sidebars.

I am far from an expert on the subject of PWAs, and I know that some PWA requirements like local storage are almost guaranteed to impose a challenge for some apps, but that kind of functionality could only be improved by using the web in a more powerful and more varied, offered by PWAs. Again, I’m not a developer, but this seems like a path where a new utility could be adopted if there is a way to provide the “same” PWA experience to multiple users simultaneously or introduce new tools or APIs that enable some form of shared PWA experience. It’s also a key way for Google to differentiate itself here, given how widely the company has embraced PWAs and how much Apple did to fight them.

At my company, we sometimes joke about software features by saying “Google did it first, but Apple did it better”. (That’s not always true, but it often is.) Shared Tab Groups is one example where I think Google could take Apple’s idea and refine it into something really amazing .

#Safari #collaborative #feature #desperately #Chrome #steal

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