Google silences noisy tabs in latest Chrome beta


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Somewhere, among the dozens of tabs opened within your browser, something is playing an annoying advertisement. Google has just made it easier to find which one.

Google’s latest Chrome beta adds a few icons to tabs, to quickly identify which tabs are either playing back music, using your Webcam, or else broadcasting to your TV. That’s in addition to the automatic malware-blocking capabilities added to the earlier version of Chrome, which supplement the “Safe Browsing” feature that warns you of websites with unsavory reputations for harboring malware.

Googe Chrome tab WebcamGoogle
A tab using your Webcam.

By default, users are signed up for the final or “stable” version of the Chrome browser. Users can also manually opt to use the beta or even the alpha or developer channel, also known as the “Canary” build, for earlier access to new features. However, the alpha and beta channels usually contain more bugs, too.

What we know, however, is that Google progressively rolls features from the alpha to the beta to the stable channel—meaning that such capabilities will probably arrive in the final version of Chrome within a month or two.

Chrome movie tabGoogle
A Chrome tab playing audio.

Google also revealed that users who run Chrome for Windows 8 will see a new “app launcher,” the grid of icons that allow users to hop from Gmail to the calendar and any number of other apps. (It should be said that the app launcher has its share of critics—at least where Gmail is concerned—who have objected to Google essentially adding clicks to the process of finding familiar applications.) On the other hand, the new app launcher will look familiar to Chromebook users, a platform that Google added the app launcher to some time ago.

“[W]ith a common interface we’ll be able to bring great experiences to both even more quickly,” Yuri Wiitala, a Google software engineer, wrote in a blog post.

Whatever your feelings toward the app launcher, however, silencing noisy tabs is a great idea. Here’s hoping the other browser makers follow Google’s lead.

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