The latest beta version of Chrome, Version 111, includes a trial version of a feature that could make the browser’s picture-in-picture feature much more useful. Instead of being just for video playback, Google is considering letting it display virtually any web content in a floating window that stays on top of all your other windows.
This feature, called Document Picture-in-Picture, can be useful in several ways. Some examples from Google are mostly just spins on how picture-in-picture already works, like video players but with a custom UI (like buttons to like or dislike a video, timeline, or subreddits). titles), or a mini-player for video conferencing that lets you see a grid of people and access controls to mute you or raise your hand.
But it’s easy to imagine entire applets that also take advantage of the API; there is a pomodoro website that already uses it with supported browsers, and I would absolutely use a website that gave me a picture-in-picture notebook or to-do list. Google also suggests the feature could be used to show, for example, a playlist for your music.
Of course, if many sites start using full document picture-in-picture, it would be nice if the feature came to browsers with non-Chromium engines. However, it is currently unclear whether this will happen. One of the feature’s developers asked the teams associated with firefox And Safari for their position on this, and did not get a definitive answer. However, Mozilla team members raised concerns about using the feature as a place for annoying pop-ups, and the folks at Apple weren’t even sure it would even be possible on iOS.
According to Chrome Platform Health Tracker, the feature will be tested until Chrome 115, which will probably be released in June. After that, the developers will likely consider all the feedback they receive on the feature and decide how to move forward.
If you want to enable support for the feature, you can enable its flag by pasting chrome://flags/#document-picture-in-picture-api in your URL bar, and choosing activated in the drop-down menu. At this point, there probably won’t be a ton of sites that support it, but you might come across some.