Google Readies Media Playback History Tracking For Chrome Users

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Google appears to have a new history tracking UI in the works for its Chrome browser, dedicated to media playback. The feature, spotted in the Chromium Gerrit code repository by XDA Developers, hasn't been well-defined as of this writing. Instead, Google is simply tucking it behind the flag "media-history" for now and has outlined basic functionality.

As its tag implies, the tool appears to work similarly to the more straightforward Chrome browser history. It gives users a 'media history, complete with the option to delete those from the log. It has also been coded to delete entries from the above-mentioned Chrome history as they're deleted from media history.

For the time being, Google also hasn't built out much by way of a preview for the feature. It has built a "basic" Web UI for media history.  That "just shows a row count per table" right now, according to Gerrit commits. But the company will be pushing forward with a fully-fleshed design going forward.

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There's no indication, for now, whether the final page will occupy the same page as the rest of the browser history. Chrome may create an entirely separate page for it. Or it could feasibly include media history as a secondary section on the main history page.

The search giant aptly places that media history at "chrome://media-history."

However, users will need to turn on an experimental 'flag' feature first for the foreseeable future. The flag is set to be found via a search for the "#media-history" hashtag at the "chrome://flags" URL. That's once it's added across platforms in the stable channel for testing, as it doesn't appear to be just yet.

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What purpose could Chrome media history tracking serve?

Google has not listed any explicit reasoning behind the decision to separate out a media history in Chrome. As Chrome currently works, the browser already includes any media URLs that a user may have visited, in the standard history page. That remains the case whether a user is signed in or not. Conversely, those entries into the browser's history also show up elsewhere if users are signed in and syncing Chrome across devices.

So Google may simply intend the additional history page as a way for users to quickly easily access the media they've already played. That could prove useful when a user doesn't want to slog through pages of browser history just to find a song or clip they liked. On the other hand, the feature may prove useful for those who would rather a clip or piece of media didn't show up in their history at all.

There's no set timeline for this particular feature

Another mystery created by the appearance of a new media history feature in the Chromium Gerrit is when the feature might arrive. As suggested above, it doesn't appear to be available in any of the browser's stable channels on any platform. Since it also isn't ready on the UI front, it could be a long time this, like other recent media additions in Chrome, is launched.

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Users on Chrome's less stable Beta, Dev, or Canary Channels may see some iteration of media history in Chrome 83. That's at the earliest. Google is skipping Chrome 82 on all platforms and the next iteration should appear on or around May 19. The Chrome OS update to version 83 would be released on or around May 26. But there's no guarantee this feature will be ready by then.