I came across this piece of software last week. The second I used it, my first impression was simple: Wow... someone really gets the mobile experience. That was followed by: Why isn't this the default behavior for Android in the first place? This is a real game changer.
What exactly am I talking about? I'm talking about a nifty little app you can find in the Google Play Store called Link Bubble. What does Link Bubble do? When you click on a link, it loads said link in the background, so you can continue to use the source app until you're ready to view the link. As soon as the link has downloaded, it is easily viewable in a "slide over" window that doesn't require the closing of the source app. You can also, with a simple flick of a finger, share the link or close it.
This is exactly how links should be opened by apps (such as Gmail, email, Facebook, etc.). And it's easy to have this feature by installing Link Bubble. There are two versions of the app: free and paid. The paid version costs $4.99 (USD) and is well worth the cost. The biggest difference between the free and the paid version is that the free version is limited to being able to open links from one app (of your choosing). I highly recommend installing the free version and then, once you realize you cannot fathom using your Android device without Link Bubble, purchasing the paid version.
Let's install this revelation of an app and learn how to use it.
The installation of Link Bubble is simple. Just follow these steps:
- Open the Google Play Store
- Search for link bubble
- Locate and tap the free version of the app (by Chris Lacy)
- Tap Install
- Tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
Once you've installed the app, you can tap the launcher (either from your home screen or from within the app drawer) and walk through the welcome screen.
There really isn't much to set up to get Link Bubble working for you. In fact, there is really only one configuration option you must set — Intercept links from. This option tells Link Bubble which app to watch for links to open (remember, in the free version you can only select one app, but you can select as many apps as you want with the paid version).
After you've walked through the welcome page, you should find yourself on the app main screen (Figure A).
Link Bubble running on a Verizon-branded HTC One Max.
To set the application, do the following:
- Tap the gear icon in the upper right corner of the Link Bubble main screen
- Located and tap Intercept links from
- Locate the app you want to use and tap to enable
- Tap OK
That's it. You should now be able to use Link Bubble with that newly associated app. Here's how it works (watch Video 1 for demonstration):
- Open up the associated app
- Find a link to tap
- Tap the link
- You'll see an animated "Link Bubble" appear
- When the animated bubble stops spinning, tap the bubble
- View the web page
- When done viewing the link, tap the bubble
- Flick to share or delete the bubble
Demonstrating how Link Bubble works on the Verizon-branded HTC One Max.
You can set the bubble to auto-expand when downloading has finished. You can also configure what the left and right bubbles do. By default, the left bubble shares with Facebook and the right bubble opens the share picker.
You can also "minimize" the link bubble (so you can view it later) by long-pressing and dragging it to either the left or right edge of the screen (so long as you don't drag it to either the right or left share bubble).
Other than being able to associate more than one app with Link Bubble, the paid version also allows you to open up multiple links from the current app. Both of those features, alone, are worth the price of entry.
Why do you need an app like Link Bubble? Simple — to save time. You'll no longer be immediately kicked out of the source app when you tap a link. With Link Bubble, that app will still be right there, ready when you're done with the link.
What do you think? Should Link Bubble be the default behavior for Android? Has the developer come up with something so simple, yet brilliant, it would be hard to imagine using your device without this behavior?
Sound off in the comments, and let us know what you think of Link Bubble and how it can change the way you interact with links on your Android device.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.