It appears that Google will soon add a play button to its Chrome browser, as spotted by ZDnet and Techdows. The button will live on Chrome’s toolbar, and will allow users to play or pause a video or music that’s playing in a tab.
The feature is called Global Media Controls, and it’s currently being tested on Chrome’s Development browser, Canary. Once it’s enabled, the feature appears next to the URL field, and will highlight what is playing, even if it’s on a different tab.
If you have the Canary browser and want to test it out for yourself, you can go to its experiments page, chrome://flags/, and search for “Global Media Controls.” When the result pops up, you can then enable it. After relaunching the browser, you’ll see a tiny play button next to the URL field. Once you’re listening to a song or video, the feature will allow you to skip forward or back, pause, or play the file. Testing it out myself, it works with video sites like YouTube and Vimeo, as well as Apple’s podcast pages and Spotify, although if you have multiple tabs that are playing something (say, if a page starts autoplaying a video), it’ll only pull up the original.
It’s not clear when the button will be live for the main Chrome browser yet, but it does appear to be a useful feature. Google has introduced a couple of helpful features along these lines in the past — an indicator for what tab was playing something, the ability to mute an individual tab, and most recently, the ability to mute a site permanently. This seems like the next logical step — pause the song or video you were actually listening to in order to listen to something else quickly.