Individual tabs gain nifty new features in pre-release Chrome and Firefox builds

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Google and Mozilla are tinkering with adding audio visualization and privacy to individual tabs in future versions of their browsers.

The audio visualization feature has been incorporated into both Chromium and the "Canary" build of Google's Chrome browser, according to The Next Web .

Since introduced as part of Google's Chrome development process in 2010, Canary has been a bleeding edge version of the browser—a place to experiment with features before testing them in the development channel.

So that means that it may be some time before the visualization feature—which allows you to see if the web page to a tab is playing or recording audio—appears, if ever, in a future version of the browser.

If you like to open tabs with abandon, the feature could be very useful to you in finding a web page blaring audio in a rat's nest of tabs.

The audio tab feature was initially spotted by blogger and Chromium source code crawler Francois Beaufort. "Google Chrome Team is working on identifying tabs that play audio in order to exclude them from the list of tabs to discard when memory runs out," he wrote.

"In a first step, they've added a small indicator on top of the tab favicon to tell when a tab is actually playing audio," he added.

Meanwhile, Mozilla's latest pre-release of its browser—Firefox 20 beta for the desktop, as well as the version for Android devices—includes a privacy feature announced several months ago.

The feature allows you to apply the browser's "privacy mode" to individual tabs. Privacy mode prevents the browser from keeping a history of the sites you've visited and cookies you've acquired.

In prior versions of Firefox, when privacy mode was entered, all current tabs were saved, the browser window closed and a new window opened in privacy mode. When Firefox 20 is released, you'll be able to mix private and non-private tabs in the same browser session, assuming the pre-release functionality stays intact.

Privacy tabs have been dubbed "porn tabs" by some Internet wags because they allow a browser operator to keep a tab to porn site open without leaving any traces of their visit to the site on their computer.

Other new additions in Firefox beta 20 include:

  • A new download manager located on the browser's toolbar instead of in a separate management pane.
  • A plug-in warning that alerts you if an applet freezes for more than 45 seconds. If it does, it gives the option of restarting the plug-in rather than rebooting the browser.
  • Support of WebRTC's getUserMedia, which opens up web access to your computer's camera and microphone—but only with your permission.
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