Google has been working on tab previews for Chrome a while now, with the first hints of the feature showing up early in 2019. The company has included hidden flags for the feature that allows users to either enable just hover cards with information or a preview image of the website as well – akin to what was present in legacy Edge. The firm introduced tab hover cards as the default behavior for the hover action on tabs with Chrome 91 that released last week.
However, it removed the ability to disable the tab hover card feature by getting rid of the flag in chrome://flags with version 91, allowing users to only enable or disable the hover card images. While the change is minor and might even be overlooked, feedback from some users has been negative, as they can no longer enable the legacy tooltips for tabs. Other posts from users on the Chromium bug tracker suggest that the lack of traditional tooltips is also an accessibility pain point. To address this, the firm might be looking to add a setting to Chrome that will allow users to toggle between tooltips and tab hover cards.
A new commit to the Chromium Gerrit (spotted by Reddit users Leopeva64-2) contains code that refers to a toggle button for tab hover cards, which can be disabled to return to the “legacy tab tooltip”. However, the commit does not guarantee that such a setting will be included in Chrome, since there is pushback from other owners, arguing against adding preference settings that impact the behavior of the browser’s features and calling for the improvement of the feature itself. The individual also links to a Core Principles document that advocates against hidden preferences.
It will be interesting to see if the firm introduces a setting for disabling the feature, or if it will address concerns and feedback by tweaking the UI itself.