A feature that has been requested since Day 2 of the tabbed browser, may soon reach the general public.
I know I have a tab problem. It’s so easy to keep tabs open and come back to them later. Combined with settings to restore those tabs the next time the browser is re-opened, it takes active effort (or a computer crash) to keep them to a manageable number. On the other hand, it makes consuming content much easier as things can load while you are still on the previous page. For example, you might be reading a review of a product that recommends a few alternatives. You middle-click the links for each alternative to open them in a new tab and then you can visit each one’s site for in-depth reading. Combine that means of tabbed browsing with an RSS feed reader and you can go through a lot of content, you just may not get to it right away.
Now, throw into the scenario where one of those darn links has an auto-play video. Somewhere like ESPN, YouTube, or any other sit could start making noise right away. If you want to mute or pause it quickly, you’re going to have to go through each new tab to find the offender. An even worse scenario is when you close the browser and have it restore tabs upon re-opening. Now, it could be any of those tabs or even more than one that is making the noise.
A new feature that was introduced in the “bleeding edge” Canary build of Chrome can help with this problem. An animated overlay to the favicon on a tab can let you know at a glance which ones are playing audio.
From what I was able to test, the animation will stop shortly after you pause an embedded object but it will still animate if a YouTube video is playing even though the audio is muted. The feature was included in the Chromium Issue Tracker. It works well on full tabs and pinned tabs quite well. The animation will trigger for any tabs that are playing or broadcasting. The only thing to complain about was that I didn’t see an interface to disable the functionality should somebody prefer to not have the animations as they can be a little eye-catching.
You could have had a similar functionality through the Chrome extension MuteTab. While it allows additional functionality, I would have to say I prefer Chrome’s implementation and I hope it makes it through the various builds to end up in the final build.