This new Chrome flag is my favorite new feature

My biggest pet peeve when using apps on my Android phone is when they open a link inside the app. I have to remember to dig into the settings to disable that for each app or just suffer through whatever basic built-in browser implementation the devs decided to go with — looking at you, Instagram!

Chrome Custom Tabs started solving that issue a while ago; they offer devs a way to load a link inside a proper Chrome instance on the fly, and many apps switched to them. But still, one issue remains: When you open a link from Twitter (X), Slack, or Spotify, for example, in a Chrome Custom Tab, you’re virtually locked in. You can either check that page or close it; there’s no way to continue browsing the original app and keeping the article open.

And this happens to me several times a day. My colleagues share a link to an interesting story on Slack, I tap the link and can no longer read the original conversation we were having. Or I open a link from Twitter, and I can no longer see the original tweet or check the author.

There’s a new Chrome flag, though, (via @artemR and @MishaalRahman) that solves this issue. You’ll have to enable it manually like you do with any other Chrome flag, by opening a new tab, going to chrome://flags, searching for cct, and tapping Enable on the Allow Custom Tabs to be minimized option.

Once that’s done, any time you open a link inside an app, you’ll see a new minimize button on the top left. Tap that and the page minimizes to a floating picture-in-picture window that you can drag around, close, or reopen. Simple as that.

Now, if we’re discussing something in Slack, I can open the link, read a bit, minimize it to return to the team chat, and re-open the link to continue reading. All of it, seamlessly, and without fussing around to close the page, find the link to open it again, and scroll back to where I was.

If I’m checking out an article on Twitter, I can still participate in the conversation or see other replies and the author’s profile without closing the article. If I’m buying concert tickets from Spotify, I can continue listening to songs while picking the seats I think are worth it.

A simple feature and one that should’ve been there from the start if you ask me.

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