Chrome 54: background HTML5 video play on Android

Google Chrome 54 for Android introduces new background video playback capabilities to the web browser if HTML5 video elements are played in it.

If you use Chrome on Android, you may have noticed that the browser stops playing videos automatically when you switch to another application, tab in the browser, or lock the device.

While that is desired sometimes, it may irritate you at other times. Maybe you want to turn off the display to save battery while the video, a music video or playlist perhaps, continues to play in the background.

This was not possible up until now, but changes with the release of Chrome 54 for Android.

The browser is currently available on the beta channel. If you run the beta version of Chrome on Android, then you may take advantage of the new feature right away.

chrome-android background video play

First thing you may want to do is check whether you are running Chrome 54 on your Android device.

  1. Open Chrome on your Android device.
  2. Tap on the menu icon in the top right corner of the Chrome browser (the three dots).
  3. Select Help Feedback from the menu that opens (it is the last entry, you may need to scroll).
  4. On the page that opens, tap on the menu icon again.
  5. Select « version info » on the page ».
  6. This displays the version of Google Chrome on the device.

Now, to make use of the new background video playback feature in Chrome, do the following:

  1. Visit a video page and start to play a video there. You may do this on YouTube, TED, and any other site on the Internet that supports streaming video using HTML5 video (Basically, if the video plays, it should work).
  2. Open a new tab, switch to another app, or the launcher area of your device.
  3. Swipe down to display the notifications area.
  4. There you find a new listing for the video that you started to play. Android lists the name and url, and may display other information such as the application the video is open in.
  5. Click on the play icon to continue playback of the video. You may tap on pause at any time to pause playback again.

The video starts to play again when you hit the play button. It continues to play regardless of what you do now: lock the phone, open another app, or keep the launcher area open.

Here is a video by Google that demonstrates the functionality:

Google notes that developers can take advantage of background video playback by using the Page Visibility API.

In addition to fullscreen improvements, Chrome on Android now persists the media notification of a backgrounded HTMLVideoElement, allowing a user to continue playing videos while they aren’t visible. Developers can detect background video playback by using the Page Visibility API.

So how is Firefox for Android handling video playback? Better I guess. If you use the browser to play videos on YouTube for instance, playback will continue if you switch to another app or lock the device.

Now You: Does your mobile browser support background playback?

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