Media Feeds Gives Chrome Users Cross-Web Media Recommendations

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An incoming new feature for Google Chrome called "Media Feeds" could soon make getting lost in media playback easier on any website. Spotted behind a Chrome Canary experimental flag setting, that's because the feature does almost exactly what its branding implies. It allows just about any website to create recommendations for the user to watch or listen to next.

Media Feeds accomplishes that by first allowing websites to create a feed of recommended videos. Those are then plucked from "websites that support the feature."

Chrome presents those to the user in a form that's not dissimilar to the current media controls UI. For clarity, that's the UI that appears at the top of the page, to the right of the URL Omnibox. Summarily, if a website supports that feature, it can push that through Chrome to the user. That's alongside content controls for what's currently being watched.

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There are three options that will be given to websites. They can, of course, simply let the user continue watching the recommended content. Or they can opt for a "play next" option to get the next video or other media in the feed. Last but not least, they can push content based on recommendations — dubbed "relevant content" by Googlers. That latter category is intended for getting the stream started.

Media Feeds won't work outside of video formats just yet

For the time being, Media Feeds will only work in Chrome with video content or content in video formats. That means that, unless content is properly formatted, music and other media isn't going to work. At least not yet. Google could add the feature at any point before launch since the feature is still in testing.

It's also not going to be available for everybody yet for the same reason. Right now, Google has tucked the feature behind an experimental setting at the "Chrome://flags" URL.

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After navigating to that URL, Chrome users will need to search for "#enable-media-feeds" or just Media Feeds to find the setting. That setting needs to be enabled via its drop-down menu. Then users will need to restart the browser.

It's also important to note that the Canary variant of Chrome will be needed. That's going to be easy for Windows, Mac, and Linux users. But it puts Chrome OS users on Chromebooks unless they're willing to put up with system-wide bugs and a few other tech-savvy caveats.

The rollout largely depends on websites

Unlike other organizational and convenience-based features recently kicked out by the Chrome team, Media Feeds isn't going to be available all at once for another reason too. That's because unlike the incoming tab grouping features or media playback controls themselves, websites will need to enable the feature. That reliance on adoption by web developers and the limited use cases will slow down its appearance for end-users.

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Perhaps more importantly, Google has already instituted a feature freeze for Chrome 83 and 84. The latter version won't be landing until at least July 14. So, unless Google rolls the Media Feeds out between larger updates, it's not going to land soon. Google doesn't appear prepared to roll a similar feature for mobile.