A trial for a feature that might considerably increase the usability of the browser’s picture-in-picture feature is included in the most recent Chrome beta, version 111. Google is considering allowing it to show virtually any web material in a floating window that remains on top of all of your other windows rather than just videos.
Document Picture-in-Picture is a feature that has a variety of potential applications. Some of Google’s examples are largely just variations on how picture-in-picture already functions. For instance, video players with custom user interfaces (such as buttons to like or dislike a video, a timeline, or captions) or a mini-player for video conferences that allows you to see a grid of participants and access controls to mute yourself or raise your hand are examples of this.
But it’s simple to envision whole applets that make use of the API as well; a Pomodoro website currently does so with supported browsers, and I’d definitely use a website that provided me with a picture-in-picture notepad or task list. Google adds that the feature might be used to display something like a playlist for your music.
Of course, it would be wonderful for the feature to be added to browsers with engines other than Chrome especially if many websites start adopting full-document picture-in-picture. However, it’s not yet clear if that will actually happen. The Firefox and Safari teams haven’t provided a clear response on their position on this. Although Apple staff weren’t sure if it would even be viable on iOS, Mozilla team members did have some worries about the feature being exploited as a venue for intrusive pop-ups.
The feature will be tested until Chrome 115 is released, which is anticipated to happen sometime in June, according to the Chrome Platform Status tracker. Following that, developers will likely take into account any input they receive regarding the feature and determine the next steps.
By copying chrome:/flags/#document-picture-in-picture-api into your browser’s address bar and selecting enabled from the drop-down menu, you can enable the feature’s flag. There won’t be many websites that support it right now, but you might find some.