On Chromebook as Chrome minority

I have a Chromebook which I highly recommend as a second computer. It’s light, affordable, has great battery life, and can do 95% of what I need day-to-day. It could work as your only computer in most cases – I just find it underpowered for some tasks.

Today, however, I want to write about the role of the Chromebook within the Chrome browser more broadly. Chromebooks are a minority, when considering devices that run the Chrome browser. But, as they don’t have Windows or Mac running as the operating system – using ChromeOS instead – they are more heavily impacted by changes to Chrome.

Recently, a Chrome update changed how Chromebooks respond to headphones being plugged in or removed. Previously, if you had removed the headphones, a video would continue playing, and the audio would switch to the speakers. Now, it pauses the video, and you need to click play again.

I can see both sides of this argument. iPhones and other iOS devices pause automatically when headphones are removed, and I prefer it there. However, I wish I could go back to the previous setting on the Chromebook, where it continues playing. I think the distinction here is that I’m only doing one thing at a time on my phone, so removing the headphones is usually a task switch, and I want it to pause. On my Chromebook, I’m usually doing other things, or want the speakers to play because I’m sharing the video with someone.

The worst part of this is that the change happened suddenly, without an option to revert or turn off this new ‘feature’ for my Chromebook. (Interestingly, I have an old Chromebook that no longer gets updates, and so it still works the old way.)

So, dear Chrome developers, my request is this: when you make changes to functionality like this, provide an option in the settings to go back to the previous version. I prefer it not to pause, but would prefer the freedom of a setting most of all possible options.