Although we’ve never talked about it before, the Chrome developer team has worked hard to design a new sharing sheet specific for Chrome on Android. It’s not exactly clear why the standard Android sharing sheet isn’t good enough for Chrome, but adding a couple of new features added at least gives us an idea of where the team will head with this sharing capability in the future.
At present, pressing the sharing option in the overflow menu on Chrome for Android, the expected Android sharing sheet is simply displayed, full of apps to which you can send the current URL. It is simple, straightforward and works well. It looks like a drastically new direction is about to happen, as you can see in the new custom sharing sheet for Chrome. To see it, you will need the Dev or Canary version of Chrome which can be easily installed from the Play Store. Once you have it, go to chrome: // flags and type “share” in the search bar. Enable the “Chrome Share Screenshot” and “Chrome Sharing Hub” flags and select the restart option. Usually I have to forcefully stop the app and reopen it to see the changes, so I suggest that too.
Next, go to your favorite site, click on the overflow menu, then select To share. You will immediately encounter a very different-looking menu with a handful of specialized options only for Chrome. Check out the current sharing sheet and the new one, updated below:
As it is currently set up, the new sharing sheet has 4 options at the top with the ability to send your current URL to a list of other apps that scroll horizontally below it. The bottom is not too unique and scrolling through the list to the end gives you an “other” button which basically opens the standard sharing sheet. What is unique are the four new buttons above those app shortcuts. We have a QR code button, a button to send to your devices, a Copy link button and a screenshot button.
The first option is the QR code and it currently doesn’t work. From the message on the screen when you click on it, the service will give you an instant QR code which can be scanned by any other user or device. Scanning it will move said device to the URL just shared. Simple enough. The second is just as simple but useful and we’ve discussed a version of it in the past. This version simply works in reverse, however, and allows you to share from Android to others. Click on this option, select one of the other devices (phone, tablet, Chromebook) and you will quickly receive a notification on that device that connects to the page where you were. It’s a great way to get back to where you were when you jump out of devices and it’s actually quite useful.
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The third option is even more pedestrian but equally useful. In just one click, you can get the copied URL for a good old-fashioned copy and paste it into another app of your choice. This can of course be done in Chrome right now, but some extra prints are needed at this point, so a quick way to get there is very welcome.
The final option is the most interesting, however, and is the “screenshot” button. At the moment it does not work, this button only requires an error that reads “Unable to install Image Editor for Chrome.” Eh? So, not only is there some sort of screen capture feature built into Chrome, but is there also a single image editor for Chrome that is working? Since none of this actually works in the Canarian canal at this point, we can only speculate on what’s going on here.
My hope is that this feature will include quite a few additional features in addition to the integrated Android screen capture that already exists. As a matter of fact, when I capture a screen capture on my Pixel, I am immediately given the option to edit that screen capture, so I’m not really sure why this is replicated specifically in Chrome. However, if the integrated version of the browser can do some interesting tricks like screen recording or capturing large pages, I will be sold. There are phones out there that do this by default, and I love being able to press a button and capture the full length of a website in a single image file.
However, I’m a little confused as to why they’re adding a special version just for Chrome. Perhaps the Android implementation is too messed up among the phone manufacturers to rely on, so Google wants to incorporate it into Chrome so that any user on any phone can use it. Until it is actually implemented in a usable way, we are just guessing. Google has a tendency to be redundant from a software perspective, so I hope that’s not what’s going on here. Regardless, it is clear that there is a lot of work to be done in Chrome’s sharing features on Android right now, so we are keeping an eye on these developments and will report whether / when these new features get the go-ahead from Google.