“Chrome Memories”—an early look at Google’s UI update to History

Google seems to be working on a UI revamp for the traditional browser history interface, which it’s calling “Memories.” The new feature is only available in Chrome Canary, and it’s hidden even there behind a developer flag that defaults to “off.”

If you have a copy of Canary installed and want to check out Memories, the first place you need to go is chrome://flags/#memories. Once you’ve enabled the Memories flag, you’ll be prompted to relaunch Canary, after which you can see the actual interface at chrome://memories/.

The new interface is clearly still in an alpha state, with a non-functional hamburger menu on individual entries, broken thumbnails, and so forth. But it’s functional enough to give us a general idea of what it’s all about—basically, replacing History’s simple row-based, item-by-item log view with a card-based interface that groups activities by time blocks. This design also collapses repeated activity on a single page in a short time frame into single entries.

We’ve seen some sites reporting that Memories either prioritizes or groups open tabs differently than historical activity, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Instead, you’ll likely see currently open tabs in the first card, simply because they’ve got more recent activity than older historical info. In the gallery above, you can see one card for activity within the last hour and a second card for activity occurring roughly one day ago.

We see similar grouping into cards when we try searching Memories and History for “ars”—Memories offers three cards on the first page of results, with activity one day ago, two days ago, and three days ago. This is in sharp contrast to the same search performed on History, which barely gets past this morning on the same search.

It’s not yet clear whether Google plans to replace History entirely with Memories or just offer Memories as an alternate, potentially easier-to-navigate view of the same underlying data. For now, the Memories interface is available in the latest Chromium raw builds, which means we’ll probably also see it in Microsoft Edge eventually.

Listing image by Donkey Hotey / David Carroll / Jim Salter