After months of development, Google has finally enabled support for Picture-in-Picture (PiP) inside the Chrome browser.
The new PiP mode will allow websites to show a floating video popup outside the browser window itself and let users work inside other apps while still being able to keep an eye on a video opened in their browser.
Google first added support for a PiP mode in Chrome in May this year, but the feature was hidden under a Chrome flag and also needed an additional Chrome extension to work.
Engineers initially estimated that Chrome's PiP mode would be ready for Chrome's 10-year anniversary in September, but the feature did not ship with Chrome 69, as intended.
The feature did ship with last week's Chrome 70 release, where it is now enabled by default for all Linux, Mac, and Windows users.
Chrome's PiP mode works as intended but for now, the feature is hampered by its low adoption rate among video providers.
Websites will need to update their video players to support the new Picture-in-Picture API that Google engineers developed starting with 2017, and which is at the base of the new Chrome PiP mode.
For now, only YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, and a few other sites support this API. If users visit one of these sites with Chrome 70 and want to open a video in PiP mode, they'll need to go through a series of steps, as the video players on these sites don't have a dedicated button for PiP mode.
Users must right-click twice on the video player's canvas to be able to see a new option in the Chrome video menu named "Picture in picture."
Clicking this option opens the video inside a floating video popup to the bottom-right side of the screen. This floating popup can be moved or resized as the user wishes.
Until all major video upload portals update their players to support PiP modes and show dedicated buttons in the video player's controls, using PiP mode will be cumbersome for regular users.
Fortunately, François Beaufort, one of the Google engineers who created the PiP API, has come up with a better solution.
Beaufort created a Chrome extension named "Picture-in-Picture," available through the official Chrome Web Store, here.
The extension adds a button to the Chrome browser bar. If there's a PiP-compatible video on a page, when the user presses this button, the video will appear in a floating popup without having to right-click twice and then click the PiP menu option.
Although two Google engineers put together the official Picture-in-Picture API, Chrome wasn't the first browser to feature support for it.
That distinction goes to Apple, which has supported an earlier version of the Picture-in-Picture API starting with Safari on iOS 9 and macOS 10.
Furthermore, Safari isn't the first browser to feature a PiP mode either. Opera shipped an in-house implementation of a Picture-in-Picture mode in April 2016. Nonetheless, since 2016, Opera has switched to Google's PiP API, and since Opera 57, released at the end of August, Opera has, too, enabled PiP mode by default for all users.
As for PiP modes in other browsers, Mozilla has expressed public support for the PiP API, albeit they did not provide a timeline of when they plan to support it in Firefox. Microsoft has not made its intentions public at the time of writing, but the company has always lagged behind in regards to Web API implementations and is expected to support it after a few months/years.
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