Enable Explorer UI on Chrome for Android

Over the years, we’ve seen Google continue to experiment with some UI or feature changes on its apps. Most of these are server-side changes, but on Chrome, Google handles them primarily through the icon. Chrome icons, for those who don’t know, essentially hide experimental settings that users can manually enable to get to a feature that’s still being tested. Google will test Chrome features before officially releasing them on Chrome. This time, Google is testing a new content discovery interface on Chrome for Android called Explorer UI. You can access it now by enabling the corresponding Chrome icon. Here is how we can enable the new Explorer UI in Chrome for Android devices.

Explorer user interface

The interface looks like it’s still in early testing, or at least, I would hope so. It seems more like a web page than part of a browser right now. Perhaps that’s how Google intends to see if and when the feature isn’t included by default with Chrome. Most of the websites categorized in Explorer view are specifically for Indian users. Explorer can be a place where Google can suggest a large number of sites that may be of interest to you, based on your browsing habits.

Knowing how Google likes to predict what you might want this to seem likely. It could also just be a new interface that lists local, local, popular websites. This may also be where Google may visit certain sponsored websites that may pay for your browser. This certainly won’t be the first time a browser has done it. However, Google is a big company and it probably won’t want to push users to make money, what it will be is a small amount of cash. Or isn’t it?

It is difficult to know how Google will use the Explorer user interface by the time it is completed, or if it will ever be. Maybe some Google folks with Indian roots are working on this feature right now, which would explain why people only see Indian content regardless of their location.

Enable Explorer UI in Chrome for Android

Users can access hidden settings on Chrome by going to chrome://flags. Previously, we showed you how you can use Chrome flags:

  • Material Design 2 is updated on Chrome
  • Block redirect ads
  • Make Chrome load pages faster on Android
  • Move the address bar to the bottom

Some of those flags just may not be available anymore or may have changed their name or are present in a different form. These are considered features in development and they are bound to change or disappear completely over time. An example of this would be the Chrome Home flag, that’s how we were able to move the address bar to the bottom before. It was death, however, that gave rise to Google’s duplex flag, which has yet to appear in a stable build of Chrome for Android. It was first spotted on Chrome Canary a few months ago but it didn’t exactly work again after that.

The Chrome flag we’re interested in today is called Site Discovery. Access chrome://flags and search for “discovery”. Alternatively, you can directly access chrome://flags/#explore-sites by typing it in the address bar. Once you’ve found the flag, tap the dropdown that says Default, by default and select Turn on. You will notice a message appear at the bottom with a big blue button saying RELAUNCH NOW .

When Chrome relaunches, close the Chrome flags page and go to the new tab page. You will then see the new Explorer user interface. Press the button SECTION DETAILS and it will lead you to a dedicated discovery page. As is the case with many chrome flags, this feature can just be dropped down the line to never be heard of again. It might even end up being a chrome feature.

Using the Explorer user interface

Right now it’s not much use if you don’t live in India. If you are though, this is really helpful because you won’t have to personally bookmark sites like IRCTC or other government web portals that you might need. They are easily accessible to anyone who probably doesn’t even know they exist which is probably the whole point of this new UI.


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