In this series, we remember apps from the past that were very popular back then and which we don’t hear much about today. After recalling Fring, Camera Zoom FX and Advanced Task Killer, today it’s the turn of Link bubble, a browser that opened links in a floating bubble and in the background.
Link Bubble was born in 2014 by Chris Lacy, developer of Action Launcher (and other applications), giving a dimension to multitasking on an Android where the ability to open two applications at the same time was still in its infancy. Being such a revolutionary app for its time, you don’t hear much about it these days, What happened to Link Bubble?
What was special about it?
Link Bubble is an application with which you can open web pages in floating bubbles, although it does not seek to replace your browser, but to complement it. The idea was to use it to open links from other apps in the background and thus avoid having to switch between two apps (the original app and the browser), when you need to. open multiple links.
For example, if you looked at Twitter and clicked on a link in a tweet, with Link Bubble that link would open in the background in a floating bubble
With Link Bubble, you can open web links in an app in a floating bubble, without leaving the app
Over time, Link Bubble has added additional functions by dragging the bubbles to areas of the screen with which you can share a link or save it to Pocket, without needing to switch to a full browser.
Yes OK Link Bubble did not invent floating bubbles -Facebook Messenger added them a year ago – this helped popularize them for more than just gossip and many years before Google considered including them natively in Android.
Although in a way it was a simple concept, it was a unique concept And that came before the Chrome Custom Tabs of 2015, the preferred method for apps today to open links “within their app”, without having to resort to the browser.
What happened to Link Bubble?
Link Bubble first appeared on Android in 2014 as free app with some limitations. The free version allowed you to open a single link in the background, which you could unlock with Link Bubble Pro, with a price tag of around 3.5 dollars.
The app never became a download bomb – the latest figure collected by Google Play is 500,000 downloads – but it won the award for one of the best Google Play apps of 2014 and an average rating of over 4 stars. Whoever loved her, loved her very much.
A year later, its author sold Link Bubble and TapPath to a startup by Brian Bondy, a former Mozilla employee. TapPath was an app with similar functionality, which allowed you to customize what happened when you clicked on a link in an app, with different actions depending on whether you were doing a single or double tap, etc. Due to the sale, Link Bubble became free and refunds were promised to those who had recently paid for the Pro version.
Link Bubble had a short but intense life, changing hands and names several times.
Over time it has been revealed that the startup Link Bubble was sold to was Brave, and the app has undergone a makeover to include home improvements like ad blocking and tracking. During this transition, Link Bubble was renamed Brave Browser.
The name change lasted a few months, and in November 2016 the application recovered the name of Link Bubble, as Brave was the name of the house’s full browser, based on Chromium.
Again, the change did not last long. Four months later, Brave announced that would close Link Bubble due to technical issues and the way it handles the rendering of web pages in the background. Instead, the company preferred to focus on its traditional browser, Brave. Link Bubble was not published on Google Play on March 10, 2017.
Does it still make sense today?
Link Bubble solved an issue that is not so relevant today: switching between apps or opening links without leaving an app. Much of the blame is on the controversies Chrome Custom Tabs, the invention to include “browsers” in applications. It’s not the same as what Link Bubble offers, but it’s another solution to the same problem.
While Chrome Custom Tabs are the preferred solution today for opening links without leaving an app, the Link Bubble legacy lives on in Android bubbles.
The new multitasking options present in current Android – split screen, PIP mode, same desktop mode with free windows – did not exist in 2014 and partially fulfills the productivity improvement derived from Link Bubble, although it still is not. not exactly the same. The concept of open links in the background Link Bubble does not match 100% with these solutions, so it is not surprising that applications similar to Link Bubble, such as Flynx or FlyperLink, continue to exist on Google Play.
We might not need Link Bubble today like we did in 2014, but the fact that Google has officially included notification bubbles in Android 11 – and is improving them in Android 12 – gives us an idea that Link Bubble’s legacy lives on. Not just for app links, but for everything. Android opens the door to any application to turn its notifications into bubbles, without having to depend on an application like Link Bubble for it.