We wrote about the upcoming lock screen media controls coming to Chrome OS back in July and filed the feature away since that point. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of being able to see what is playing on my Chromebook as I approach it from the lock screen, but after seeing the feature being worked on and noting that it was coming, I basically just forgot all about it.
Digging through the flags in the latest Dev Channel update, I was reminded that this was a coming feature as I was searching around for anything having to do with the Chrome OS lockscreen. We know that Ambient Mode is coming soon to Chrome OS and will allow tablets and Chromebooks to become Nest Hub-like Google Assistant smart displays, so I’ve been eagerly digging around and trying to find anything I can around this new feature.
In that process, I came across a new flag called Lock screen media controls and, as you would assume, I immediately enabled it and restarted the Chromebook I was on. I wasn’t completely sure it would work, so I was insanely happy to see that it not only functions: it actually works really well. It also works with any media that utilizes the now-standard rich notifications, not just music. I tested Netflix, YouTube, Play Music and YouTube Music and each one offered up varying levels of support for the feature. Between the Android app versions and web-based versions of these apps, the web-based versions seemed to give a better-looking notification with album art included.
If you’d like to give this new feature a go, the steps are pretty simple. We’ve looked for the flag in Stable and Beta Channels and haven’t seen it yet, so you’ll need to head over to the less-stable Developer Channel. For what its worth, I’ve been in the Developer Channel for about a week now and haven’t had a ton of bug-related issues. I have had a random restart here and there, so be warned. Dev Channel’s not for everyone. To get there, just go to your settings and head to About Chrome OS > Detailed build information > Change channel > Developer Channel. Your Chromebook will begin the download and you will be prompted to restart once it is ready to go. Moving to the Dev Channel won’t wipe any local storage, but coming back to Beta or Stable later on will, so be aware of that.
Once you’ve arrived in the Developer Channel, you’ll need to go to chrome://flags/#enable-lock-screen-notification in your URL bar and enable the flag. You’ll be prompted to restart and you’ll need to do so. Once that is complete, get your media playing, hit the SEARCH + L combo to lock your screen, and you’ll now see that pretty awesome new lock screen feature. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how many times it has already come in handy on a daily basis and I can’t wait until this new feature arrives in Chrome OS 78 later this fall.