Chrome 53 introduced Material Design to Windows and a new Material Overview mode to Chrome OS. With its rollout near complete, version 54 is now in the beta channel with a number of user and developer features specifically for Android.
Google Chrome Beta 54 for Android is available to download from the Google Play Store for beta testers with new features and improvements.
With Chrome 54, you can play video in the background which is a welcome addition as in case of Chrome 53 video playing automatically pauses when you switch to another app or your homescreen, a long requested feature of many. Developers will be able to support backgrounded video elements using a new Page Visibility API.
Heck, you can even turn your screen off and continue to hear the audio!
Chromium developers demo the new feature in action in the following video, which uses the latest Chrome 54 Beta on Android 7.0 and the TED Talks website but Youtube also works.
You’ll notice that Chrome does not keep playing the minute you switch away. Instead it pauses the video and shows you a media notification with a play button. Tap this, and video resumes playing.
Developers can now trigger full screen mode after a device changes orientation. This allows for rotate-to-fullscreen in media players. With Chrome defaulting to HTML5 by year’s end, embedded YouTube Flash players will be rewritten by desktop Chrome to use the HTML5 embed style, thus improving performance and security.
Other features include support for developers to create custom elements and components with support for the new V1 spec and a new BroadcastChannel API allows sites to better communicate with their own custom tabs. Chrome for Android is also getting a slightly redesigned New Tab page with Google Now integration that will list Google Now suggested articles.
While it was anticipated for a while, and spotted in the Chrome 54 Developer version, the Chrome 54 Beta does not sport a download manager for Chrome, and all downloads happen in the browser itself. However, the app does ask the users for download permission, similar to what would be required for a download manager. It leaves the door open for speculations, and Google may or may not release the download manager in the final version of Chrome.
For those who don’t have YouTube Red this may be one way to get background playback of YouTube content, not to mention anything else that’s currently coded to take advantage of the system. Unfortunately, this does require some scripting on the content side so it doesn’t look like this will just work out of the box from day one, but having the option of the functionality is always better then it just not existing.