Google uses its Chrome Canary build to give developers and more advanced web users an early look at experimental features it is working on for Chrome. The build can be unstable, but it offers a unique insight into the future features we’re likely to see added to Google’s main web browser.
One such feature that has recently been spotted on Google Chrome Canary is a new button found on the Chrome toolbar, called Global Media Controls (GMC). The new GMC feature will make it easier for Chrome users to control both audio and video media that is playing on any Google Chrome tab or Window. If you’ve ever been distracted by an autoplay video or audio track playing on a different Google Chrome tab or window, this new feature will no doubt be music to your ears.
Chrome’s new Global Media Controls will be found next to the user icon in the top-right of the screen and just to the left of all of your Chrome plug-in icons. The GMC button will appear as a play/pause button and clicking it will open a pop-up that gives control of all audio-playing media currently active on Chrome. This will include all open Chrome tabs and windows.
We expect this feature will prove popular with Google Chrome users as it directly addresses a rather annoying problem that modern internet use has created. As we all try to do more online in less time, we’re opening more and more tabs and windows to try and keep track of where we’re up to. When you add the added revenue websites can get from auto-playing videos inter-cut with ads, you have a bit of a perfect storm.
A tab you have open but aren’t actively using can continue playing media in the background while you’re doing something else or sometimes can even start a brand-new video complete with all the sounds that go with it. You then have to stop what you’re doing and deal with the distraction. Unnecessary interruptions to our workflow can often have a devastating effect on our productivity.
Google has actually made this problem a little worse recently by disabling the quick mute option from different tabs. Users used to be able to mute any tabs that were playing audio or videos with audio, simply by clicking on the speaker icon that appears on any tab that is creating sound. By removing this option, Google forced users to not just search for the tab that was creating the distracting noises but also the source of the noise within the tab itself.
The GMC feature is an update on the tab muting feature Google recently removed and will answer all the requests Google has been receiving to reactivate it. If you use the desktop version of Google Chrome on Windows, Mac, or Linux keep an eye out for this future as it is on its way. If you’re a Chrome OS user, however, unfortunately, there is no official word about whether the feature will ever land on your machine.