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This new Chrome flag is my favorite new feature

Minimize tabs while still using my apps? I'll take that!

Published onMarch 9, 2024

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.