Ditch Ads, and Other Reasons to Use These Hidden Chrome ‘Flags’ on Your Android

Ditch Ads & Other Reasons To Use These Hidden Chrome “Flags” On Your Android

Photo: Dzmitrock, Shutterstock

Chrome on Android is a very capable browser. It is the default browser for most Android smartphones out there. And because it’s so popular, it hasn’t really changed in recent years.

It’s still good for browsing the web, but other than tab groups, we haven’t seen any major new features lately. However, that doesn’t mean Google isn’t innovating or trying new things. The company has been testing dozens of new Chrome features for months or years that haven’t reached the stable version of the browser yet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use them.

If you don’t mind being adventurous, you can enable these experimental features using the Flags option. Since they are experimental, they can affect the browsing experience, but you can always turn them off again.

Enable experimental flags in Chrome for Android

Screenshot: Khamosh PathakScreenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Let’s talk about enabling a flag first. Open Chrome browser and enter “chrome://flags” in the URL bar. You will now see a long list of all available experimental functions. Use the search bar to find the desired flag.

Tap the dropdown next to the flag and choose the “Switched on” option (or any of the other customizable options). Press “Restart” button. When Chrome restarts, the feature will be enabled.

The Best Chrome Flags to Try on Android

As noted, there are dozens of experimental features on the flags page, many of which are designed for use by developers. Still, there are quite a few gems that will add new functionality to Chrome for any user.

  • Read list: It feels like Chrome’s reading list feature has been in development for years. As of now, the only way to enable it is to use this flag. Once you’ve done that, you can add articles to the new Reading List feature (the Reading List itself is in the Bookmarks tab).
  • web feed: Google Reader is long dead, but Chrome is bringing a similar feature called Web Feed to Google Chrome. Once you enable the flag, you can follow any site that offers an RSS feed. You will then see new posts from the site in the “Next” on the new tab page.
  • Automatic dark mode for web content: This is a really cool flag that cleverly inverts the colors of most web pages and changes them in dark mode even if the website doesn’t support it.
  • Incognito Screenshot: Once you enable this feature, you can surpass Chrome’s security feature that blocks screenshots on incognito tabs.
  • Show query tiles: Google’s homepage is increasingly filled with content recommendations and advertisements. This flag removes all that. Just toggle the “Show query tilesflag and you’re good to go.
  • Google Lens: Google Lens feature has arrived in Chrome for desktop, but is still hidden behind a flag on Android. Once you enable it (the flag is called “Search for images with Google Lens in the context menu“), you can search related images through the menu long press.
  • Smooth scrolling: Not all websites work well in Chrome. Some overloaded websites stutter and lag. This flag will help you lighten the scroll burden by introducing much-needed smoothness.
  • Parallel download: Enable this smart flag if you regularly download large files. It splits large files into smaller chunks and then downloads multiple files in parallel, greatly improving download times.
  • Import password: This flag makes it easy to import passwords from different platforms or services using a CSV file.
  • Omnibox Assistant Voice Search: Pressing the microphone icon in the top toolbar now activates the Google Assistant.

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