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Facebook’s new in-app browser might give Chrome a run for its money

The people in charge of Facebook’s mobile services seem to have this mindset where, if the user has closed out the app and moved on to something else, the they’ve failed as developers. That’s one of the reasons Instant Articles exists, because it allows users to read articles from within the app, rather than having to be redirected to a separate website. Now it looks like the company is taking things a step further by seriously beefing up its in-app browser, which has always been more of an afterthought for Facebook. However, unlike Instant Articles, which give users a barebones version of the article, the new in-app browser will be close to a full-fledged browser app. 

Another day, another feature being tested at Facebook. This time around, it looks like the company is working on a seriously improved in-app browser. It’s worth noting the company has been testing it for at least a couple of months; the earliest mention we can find is around December 4. Aside from the aesthetic shift, there seem to be a several new features to help it approximate a real browser. Not as if that were a difficult task; the old browser didn’t do much beyond loading the page you wanted to read and following hyperlinks to other sites. Up top, it looks you can now actually input your own URL should you want to check another page without leaving the Facebook app. You might want to fact-check a detail on an article you read, for instance, or define a word you didn’t understand. Meanwhile a new bar on the bottom tells you how popular a post is, includes back and forward buttons (finally), lets you bookmark pages, and has a menu button which likely includes a few more features too (unfortunately we can’t access the new browser ourselves yet). Just about the only big feature that appears to be missing now is tab support. It’s obviously a huge omission, but it might only be a matter of time given all the other features the company is adding.

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