We've known about Project Hera for quite a while, and at Google I/O today, it was confirmed by Google's Director of Product Management for Chrome, Avni Shah. Hera is a new way for the web and apps to interact with each other on Android via an API, allowing apps like Chrome and Docs to use multiple scrolling items in the Recents menu at one time. Combined with the visual overhaul in the L release, this may drastically change the way that users interact with content.

Screenshot (25)

Note the separate Recents menu items for Chrome tabs (NYT) and apps in the new L Material Design interface.

Content is the word here, because the focus of this new system is on pieces of information rather than specific apps. Tabs in Chrome for Android will fill individual Recents items in Android L (at least by default). This capability will be expanded to other Google apps, and indeed, potentially any relevant apps, by using the API.

Even more interestingly, the new relationship between the mobile web and Android apps will allow for some interesting interactions. Shah demonstrated app indexing that allowed for deeper links between apps, search, and the web. For example, a Google search for the Waterbar Restaurant in San Francisco included a relevant link to an OpenTable page. Clicking on the link not only opened the OpenTable app installed on the phone, but immediately sent the app to the relevant page.

Screenshot (26)

Obviously there's a lot more that remains to be seen about the new user interface and how the Recents menu and Chrome will fit into the L release. We'll be continually covering Google I/O 2014 for any further developments. Check out our original scoop on Project Hera for more technical details.

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • Javier

    That navbar sucks

    • Chris

      My poor mom will be so confused. Hopefully the OEMS skin it to keep the little house there.

      • tokuiten

        And for the rest of us, there's SoftkeyZ...

      • thartist

        Actually, that's the very first thing i thought.

        Every area of Android is getting a thousand different behaviors because of a much more complex/advanced reasoning, which, as interesting as it is for seasoned users, it's an absolute learning nightmare for first-timers and old people.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I'm guessing it could be a placeholder. At least I hope so.

    • Guess

      A thousand times this! That was the first thing I noticed when L first showed up, and I immediately hated it!

  • Tony

    Having tabs in recents is the worst thing I've seen, I don't want 10 tabs in my recents it'd get way too overwhelming. Better be an option to disable this.

    • calvin

      webOS and Maemo did just fine with applications having multiple "windows." Instead of tabs, they used multiple "windows," and that was a feature available to any application.

      • tokuiten

        Thing is, Maemo didn't sync with your desktop, nor did it preserve your browser windows across sessions.

        Having multiple windows per application is a good thing, but pulling in your desktop's tabs is ridiculous.

        • ddpacino

          This makes complete and perfect sense for my use case. This will thoroughly allow me to manage my browser usage alot better across platforms.

      • digi_owl

        Iirc, both WebOS and Maemo used a stacking metaphor where you would have one primary entry and then some kind of indicator that there was multiple sub-entries under it.

  • RJM7787

    I'm not sure I want tabs to populate my recents. Unless they figure out a way to separate tabs from my apps, this could get messy. Especially people for like my mom and girlfriend who have 10+ tabs open in their chrome browser at all times (They never close anything!). I can just hear them calling me for help already, "Where are my apps?"

    • Zak Taccardi

      It would only be recently accessed tabs.

    • Justin W

      Well, I know people who never clear their recent apps list and hence have 30+ apps in their recents list. Add that to the list of Chrome open tabs, and you have a list from hell.

    • Guest

      10+? I normally have 100+ and just get a : ) in my tab count box.

  • http://ignaciozippy.com/ Ignacio Zippy

    Because this worked great for Apple before getting native apps on iOS. /s

  • tokuiten

    Oh god no. I use Chromium on my work computer, and I typically have 100+ tabs open. This would make Android unusable for me.

    • Matthew DiGiacomo

      Dude. Close some tabs.

    • ddpacino

      Create a new profile for personal and work stuff. I've taken advantage of this and it's great.

  • giriz

    They should stack recent chrome tabs together horizontally and apps vertically, that would make more sense ... to me.

    • DonEmu

      Same thing came to mind.

      Would be a very neat way of handling it.

    • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

      That sounds better. But then how are you going to clear any tab from the list? Swipe up? Two different gestures for same action on a single screen isn't good.

      That said, I too hate each tab having their own card here.

    • kashtrey

      I was thinking the same. I have like 90 tabs open in Chrome on mobile, which I admittedly need to clear out, but I don't want to have like 20 tabs open cluttering my recents. This new implementation will probably get me to manage tabs better, but still may balloon out of control.

    • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

      But this isn't specifically a Chrome feature; it's an API that other apps can use. Why would they single out Chrome tabs vs., say, multiple Google Docs?

  • Simon Belmont

    Interesting. Putting individual Chrome tabs into the recents UI sounds a lot like the old days of web browsers that didn't use tabs, but had multiple windows showing up instead in the taskbar.

    Not sure how I feel about having my recents clogged up with Chrome tabs, but I have to see it in action first. Also, those navigation buttons looks like PlayStation button symbols.

    • http://batman-news.com john

      I always have at least 25 tabs in chrome. That's going to suck! Hopefully my preferred custom roms will have the ability to turn back to the "normal" recents. Actually, I like the original recents best, when they were not screenshots and only app icons. I miss those.

  • Dan, From The Internet

    Cool, where's the feature to turn this the hell off?

  • Gokh

    I was not believing you AP, forgive me !

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      You've officially forgiven. You heard it here first, folks.

  • http://musstashcashstash.tumblr.com salim marshall

    Can't get iOS 8 so i'm excited to be able to get this update

  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

    Who hates this recents screen, raise hand.
    It sure looks pretty and shiny. But finding any app will take more time now. You mostly see a tiny header bar of each card until that card is in the foreground. It is very easy to miss the card you want to tap. More often than not, you will under or over flip the cards.

    • http://batman-news.com john

      I hate those recents cards so much!

  • Paul

    Couldn't agree more with the other comments here on how this does not seem like an improvement. Notice how they've also snuck in yet another Google search box to add just a bit more clutter and proprietarisation. Really hope the OEMs strop that out; actually, I really wish they'd get together and kick Google out of Android altogether.

  • guest

    This sounds horrible, luckily there's always custom roms :)

  • Jacob Long

    Wow, I never realized how many people used the mobile web that much. I try to stay away from Android browsers as much as I can, and Chrome in particular. Too much of the web is still not mobile-friendly for me to bother except as a fall-back option or to accomplish specific tasks that don't involve ever-present open tabs.