Keyboard Multimedia Button Support Finally Arrives With Chrome 73

Support for keyboard-based multimedia buttons will be arriving in Chrome 73, ZDNet reports. The feature appearing under the Media Session API in the official Chrome update Schedule with support incoming for desktops and laptops running macOS or Windows. Chrome OS is included in the feature update as well despite that Chromebooks don't generally have media keys on their keyboards. That means users with secondary keyboards in use that have the keys will be able to use them.

Linux won't be supported out of the gate but is planned to have support in the browser at some point in the future.

On top of to support for multimedia keys, the Media Session API allows media to be controlled from outside of the page the media is playing on. So if a user wants to skip or pause playback from another page, that should be possible. The description also enabled media metadata customization by websites, so that site can "control the notification and lock screen UI" related to playback.

More media changes coming in Chrome 73

The external media control aspect of the newest release should be at least somewhat familiar to Android users. The Media Session API has been present in Android for some time now -- since Chrome 57 -- and is responsible for the notification shade-based media controls originating in Google Chrome.

Another big media-related change scheduled to arrive in Chrome 73 is the inclusion of "Auto Picture-in-Picture" and a reasonably big change to picture-in-picture. To begin with, video playback in PWA's users have installed will enter or leave picture-in-picture mode -- appearing in a small pop-out window -- where appropriate. Specifically, the change is noted as occurring 'when a document's visibility' is altered, most likely when the window is minimized in a fashion similar to Android's picture-in-picture mode.

The same new mode will be allowed to web apps for video chats or meetings whenever users alter between apps, web apps, or tabs.

Coinciding with Picture-in-Picture mode, a new feature is being added to the minimal playback windows that will allow users to skip ads. That will work just like it does with the "skip ad" button in other areas of Google's services, notifying the originating site that the ad was skipped.

When will the new features arrive?

Chrome version 73 is set to land on the browser's Stable Channel in just 32 days on March 12. As is always the case, the update will hit Windows and Linux several days before it begins its slow rollout to Chrome OS and Android. As noted above, most of the new features are going to impact desktop variations of the Chrome browser and won't have much impact on mobile versions.

Primarily, other changes set to arrive with Chrome 73 update will be behind-the-scenes alterations and developer-facing changes that users won't see but which should make the entire experience much smoother.

For the time being, the update doesn't appear to carry the recently reported Chrome dark mode either. The list of incoming features may change in the weeks leading up to its launch, so it's not out of the question that the new night-friendly mode could arrive in Chrome 73. At this point, it seems more likely that will be held back until at least version 74.

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Daniel Golightly

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at Daniel.Golightly@androidheadlines.com
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