Did you know that Chrome on Android can handle downloads in two different methods? Before we got this tip, I sure didn't and it took a little investigative work to get to the bottom of this difference. See, there are two ways you can trigger a download in Chrome. One is by clicking on a link that opens the bottom pop-up asking you if you want to save a file (think APK Mirror) and the other is by long tapping on any embedded content (usually media) and selecting save. The first triggers the Downloads app (or Download Manager) from Android, the second triggers Chrome's built-in download manager functionality. Changes are coming to both of these — we've already discussed how Android N's Downloads notification has gotten a new Cancel button and now we're going to talk about how Chrome's built-in manager is changing in version 50.

Let's start with Chrome 49, which is the current stable version of Chrome on Marshmallow. If you go to a webpage with an embedded file, say this .mp4 video for example or this .mp3 podcast, and you start playback then long-tap to get the option to save the video or audio, you'll trigger Chrome's built-in download functionality (again, this isn't the Downloads app). The notification doesn't allow you to do anything, not pausing, not canceling, and it's not even dismissible. The only way to cancel the download is to remove Chrome from the Recents apps, which causes the notification to switch to Download Paused, and then it's dismissible. And technically, the download isn't even paused then because there's no way to resume it. Even opening Chrome again causes the notification to disappear thus canceling the download.

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Chrome 49's built-in manager has a pretty useless notification

Now switch over to Chrome 50, which is either the Chrome 50 Dev version that you can run on Marshmallow or the Chrome 50 stable version that's preloaded on Android N. Open the same .mp4 video file or .mp3 podcast, start playback, and long-tap to save the file. You'll trigger Chrome's built-in download manager (once more, not the Downloads app) and the notification will show you... surprise... both a Pause and a Cancel button. These work as expected: you can either cancel the download completely or pause and resume it. Beware though, the latter functionality is a little buggy now and you might get a few force closes or failed downloads there. I hope this becomes more stable with future releases of Chrome 50.

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Chrome 50's (Dev on M or stable on N) built-in manager shows Cancel/Pause in the notification

If you're running Android N, you might be confused like us by why certain downloads offer a Pause button and others don't. It's exactly because one type (embedded media) is being handled by Chrome 50's built-in downloader as explained here while the other (links like APK files from APK Mirror and factory images) and is being handled by the Downloads app which got updated in N (explained in this other post). Here are both types of notifications next to each other, notice the name of the app responsible for each.


Chrome 50's built-in downloader (top) vs the Downloads app (bottom)

I hope I made this clear for anyone running into these two different notifications. Yes, you bet it took us a bit of trial and error to understand why things weren't the same. And since this here is a Chrome feature, it is already available on Chrome 50 Dev on Marshmallow and will most likely be coming to the stable version of Chrome 50 on M. The Downloads update, on the other hand, is an N-only feature.

  • Thanks:
  • Rupam Mandal