iOS 15: Check Out Safari's New Tab Bar, Tab Groups, and Tab Switcher

In iOS 15, Safari has been completely redesigned with easier-to-reach controls in mind. Foremost is a new, compact tab bar that floats at the bottom of the screen when you're not inputting a URL address. Safari on iOS has also inherited the Start Page from macOS Big Sur, and you can now create tab groups to allow you to easily access them across devices. Let's take a closer look at how it all fits together.

safari ios 15

The Start Page

First seen in macOS Big Sur, Safari's redesigned Start Page is where your Bookmarks, Favorites, Frequently Visited sites, Siri Suggestions, iCloud Tabs, Reading List, and Privacy Report all live.

safari
Like macOS, you can customize which of these items appear on your Start Page via the Edit button at the bottom, and you can also add a custom wallpaper of your own or use an existing alternative background. In addition, you have the option of syncing your Start Page in iCloud so that it's mirrored across all your devices.

Tab Bar Functions

At the bottom of the Start Page is the new tab bar. Apple has consolidated several controls into the new floating bar, which spends most of its time at the bottom of the UI while you're browsing.

safari
Tapping the Tab Bar URL makes it fly up to the top of the screen, where you can search or enter a website address. As soon as you hit Enter, the page loads and the Tab Bar flies back down to the bottom of the screen so as not to impede your view.

If you find the Tab Bar distracting you can swipe down on it to minimize it, but either way it automatically minimizes as you scroll down a page, and all you have to do to reveal it again is tap it again. (To refresh the current page, just pull down on it from the top.)


Swiping between open tabs is as simple as swiping across the Tab Bar. You can also tap the ends of the Tab Bars trailing off either side of the screen to switch to adjacent open tabs, but swiping will be easier for most users.

A long press on the Tab Bar brings up a menu offering options including Copy, Paste and Search, Add to Reading List, Add Bookmark, Add Bookmarks for X Tabs, Share, and Move to Tab Group. (See below for more on Tab Groups.)

safari
Tapping on the ellipsis (three dots) icon in the Tab Bar brings up the usual Actions menu with sharing options, but you can also long press the ellipsis icon to switch into Reader View for the current page. Tapping the rightmost icon – or swiping up on the Tab Bar – takes you into the Tabs Switcher, where are there also some surprises.

Tab Switcher and Tab Groups

In iOS 15, gone is the familiar stacked card-style view of multiple open tabs. Instead, tabs are arranged as thumbnail previews in a vertically scrolling grid, while the Tab Bar functions in the Tabs Switcher view are transformed to help you organize your tabs more efficiently. A long press on the center of it brings up a menu of Tab Group options.

safari
As well as an option to open a Private Browsing tab, you can create a New Empty Tab Group, or create a new tap group containing the currently open tabs. If you've already created at least one Tab Group and named it, then you'll also see it listed in this menu and you can tap to switch between it and any grouped or ungrouped tabs. (If there are open tabs that don't belong to any group, they'll just be listed as X number of Tabs.)

safari
As you'd expect, the plus (+) icon in the Tab Switcher Bar opens a new tab, but if you long press on it you'll also see a list of recently closed tabs.

Elsewhere, you can long press any open tab displayed in the Tab Switcher to access options like Close Other Tabs, move the selected tab to a Tab Group (tapping this opens a submenu of Tab Groups), Arrange Tabs By Title, and Arrange Tabs By Website.

safari
Overall, Safari in iOS 15 feels very different indeed, and may not chime with user's expectations. While there's more screen space dedicated to the browsing experience itself, the interface changes are drastic, although now that the ‌iPhone‌ also supports extensions for the first time, there's plenty of scope for additional customization.

Note that iOS 15 is still in early beta, and the public beta is still a month away, so the usual caveat applies in that any of these functions could change before Apple releases its new operating system in the fall.

Related Roundups: iOS 15, iPadOS 15
Tag: Safari
Related Forum: iOS 15

Top Rated Comments

Apple Mac Daz Avatar
16 months ago
Awful update. everything takes twice as long so more taps

Switching tabs is better but that’s about it
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Your Royal Highness Avatar
16 months ago
Such a better design having search and switching with a swipe on the bottom within thumb reach.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TrenttonY Avatar
16 months ago
Looks terrible, and clunky.
The tab view is a major step backwards, makes the current one look so modern.

like seriously how many sub-menus and contexual menus can you have?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IAmGLaDOS Avatar
16 months ago
As a web application developer, I really hate it.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gusping Avatar
16 months ago

I love everything in this safari redesign except the floating url bar at the bottom. It looks terrible and makes the whole thing ugly.
Yep. I will not be updating if that isn’t changed. Looks absolutely horrible. Completely ruins Safari for me.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
12643 Avatar
16 months ago
Horrible.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

samsung s8 ultra 2

Samsung's Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra vs. Apple's iPad Pro

Tuesday March 15, 2022 2:23 pm PDT by
Samsung in February unveiled the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, a high-end tablet that's meant to outshine the iPad Pro with its 14.6-inch OLED display. In our latest YouTube video, we went hands-on with Samsung's Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra to see if the company has indeed created something that's better than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Priced starting...
safari macos icon banner

Apple Releases Safari 15 Update for macOS Big Sur and macOS Catalina With New Safari Design, Tab Groups, and More

Monday September 20, 2021 11:37 am PDT by
Apple today released Safari 15 for macOS Big Sur and macOS Catalina devices, with Apple introducing support for features that are going to be coming in the macOS Monterey update set to be released later this year. Safari 15 introduces a new look for Safari with rounded, more defined tabs and support for transparency, a compact tab bar option that can be toggled on or off, and Tab Groups....
apple store website

Apple's Website Gains Redesigned Store Section and Dedicated 'Store' Tab

Tuesday August 3, 2021 5:04 pm PDT by
Following a short downtime, Apple has updated its Apple.com website to add a dedicated "Store" section, which has a new look. There's a new "Store" tab in the top navigation bar on the website, which goes to a dedicated online store portal where customers can select from a product carousel with cards that include Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, and more. The design is similar to ...
macbook pro 4

The New MacBook Pro Has an Improvement You'll Hope to Never Use

Wednesday November 3, 2021 3:14 am PDT by
Apple's latest MacBook Pro models have a raft of new features, including the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, mini-LED displays with ProMotion, an HDMI port, an SDXC card slot, fast charging with MagSafe 3, and more. As the first teardowns start to be shared online, iFixit has revealed a previously unknown improvement with the new machines. In its 14-inch MacBook Pro teardown, iFixit explained that...
samsung galaxy tab s8 ultra

What's Notch to Like? Samsung Accidentally Leaks Its New Flagship Galaxy Tab

Wednesday January 19, 2022 3:58 am PST by
Despite mocking the display notch when it first appeared on the iPhone X, Samsung's opinion of notches appears to have swung from one extreme to the other as the company now thinks they don't look so bad on tablet devices either. Spotted by 91Mobiles, the picture above briefly appeared on a Samsung support page for Bixby and shows the notched design of the upcoming Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, the...
chromelogo

Chrome for iOS Gains Biometric Authentication for Incognito Tabs

Tuesday July 20, 2021 10:36 am PDT by
Google today updated its Chrome app for iOS devices to version 92, introducing a new feature that allows iPhone and iPad users to protect their Incognito tabs with Touch ID, Face ID, or a passcode. Locked Incognito tabs will not be visible until authenticated after leaving the Chrome app and reopening it, which will prevent someone who gets ahold of your device from viewing your Chrome tabs. ...
safari ios15

Safari Browser to Get UI Overhaul and New Features Including Tab Groups

Monday June 7, 2021 11:37 am PDT by
For its new mobile and desktop OSes, Apple is redesigning the Safari browser user interface to be more compact and allow for better organization of multiple open tabs, specifically with a new feature called Tab Groups. Tab Groups aim to offer a new way to easily save and manage related tabs, such as those used when planning trips or shopping, or groups can be used to store the tabs you visit ...
macbook pro tab bar blending safari 15

macOS Monterey and iPadOS 15.1 Release Candidates Limit Safari Color Tab Bar Option to Compact View

Monday October 18, 2021 5:52 pm PDT by
With the macOS Monterey and iPadOS 15 release candidates that were seeded to developers today, Apple has eliminated the option to use the Color Tab Bar with the separate tab design in Safari. A tab bar with color in Safari 15 If you want to have a color tab bar that blends in with the background color of a website, you need to toggle on the Compact Tab Bar, which is the tab bar design that...

Popular Stories

airpods pro black background

AirPods Pro 2: Five New Features and Improvements to Expect

Sunday August 14, 2022 3:28 pm PDT by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro are finally nearing launch, with a release expected later this year. If you are considering upgrading to the new AirPods Pro once they are released, keep reading for a list of five new features to expect. In addition to all-new features, the second-generation AirPods Pro will likely adopt some features added to the standard AirPods last year. H2 Chip ...
iPhone 14 Dummies 1 Feature

Everything Rumored for Apple's September Event: iPhone 14, Apple Watch Pro and More

Friday August 12, 2022 2:34 pm PDT by
There's just about a month to go until Apple holds its annual September event focusing on new iPhone and Apple Watch models. We thought we'd take a quick look at everything that's rumored for Apple's September event to give MacRumors readers a rundown on what to expect when the first fall event rolls around. iPhone 14 The iPhone 14 can probably be described more as an "iPhone 13S" because...
10th Generation iPad Render

10th-Generation iPad With Major Design Changes Reportedly in Production Ahead of September Launch

Monday August 15, 2022 8:02 pm PDT by
Apple's rumored 10th-generation iPad is currently in production and will feature "major" design changes, according to a report from Taiwanese website DigiTimes. A mockup of the potential 10th-generation iPad design by Renders By Shailesh The report did not provide any specific details about the 10th-generation iPad's new design, but rumors suggest the device will feature a larger 10.5-inch...
ios 16 lock screen feature2

Apple Seeds Sixth Betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Monday August 15, 2022 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth betas of upcoming iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the updates coming a week after Apple released the fifth developer betas. Registered developers can download the iOS and iPadOS 16 profiles from the Apple Developer Center, and once installed, the betas will be available over the air. iOS 16 introduces a revamped Lock...
apple watch se

Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series 8: New Features to Expect If You've Waited to Upgrade

Monday August 15, 2022 2:44 am PDT by
The Apple Watch SE was announced in September 2020 and has been a popular Apple Watch model for customers looking for their first smartwatch or an affordable Apple Watch. Apple Watch SE customers may be wondering, however, what's in store for them with the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8 and what new features they can expect. Continue reading to find out. Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series ...
odyssey ark 1

Samsung Launches $3,500 'Odyssey Ark' 55-Inch Curved Gaming Display

Monday August 15, 2022 7:15 am PDT by
Samsung today announced the launch of the Odyssey Ark, which the company says is the world's first 55-inch 4K curved display with a 165Hz refresh rate for improved gaming performance. Samsung first previewed the monitor at CES, but it is now available to order. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Priced at $3,500, the Samsung Odyssey Ark features mini-LED technology...
top stories 13aug2022

Top Stories: New Battery Percentage Icon in iOS 16, USB-C AirPods Rumor, and More

Saturday August 13, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
This week brought some shocking news for iOS 16 beta testers, with Apple bringing back the iPhone battery percentage to the status bar after a number of years. Other news and rumors this week included word that Apple has started recording portions of its media event planned for next month to introduce the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8, claims about iPhone 14 Pro pricing and Apple's...