Chrome 79: global media controls rolling out

Google is in the process of rolling out a new global media control feature in the company’s Chrome web browser for desktop operating systems. The company launched the feature initially for its ChromeOS operating system to provide users with better media management capabilities.

Depending on how you use Chrome, it may sometimes be difficult to control media playback. Say you like to play media in the background while you do other things in the browser. If you need to change playback parameters quickly, e.g. pause playback or skip to the next video or track, you need to activate the tab the media plays in to get access to the controls provided by the page.

Tip: check out our complete Chrome muting guide

Chrome 79: global media controls

chrome control media playback

When you play media in Chrome 79 or later, Chrome displays a new icon in the browser’s main toolbar. The icon is only displayed on media playback and hidden otherwise. Note that Google is rolling out the change currently and that it may not be visible right now on individual browser instances.

chrome media controls

A flag is available that turns the feature on or off. You control it in the following way:

  1. Load chrome://flags/#global-media-controls in the web browser’s address bar.
  2. Set the flag to Enabled to turn it on or Disabled to turn it off. Default sets it to whatever Google has selected for the browser.
  3. Restart Google Chrome.

A click on the icon in the Chrome address bar displays playback controls and information about the media. You get options to play/pause the media, use back and forward operations, or use skip functionality.

Multiple media items may be displayed at the same time in the interface if you started playback of multiple items. I ran a quick test on YouTube and Soundcloud, and Chrome displays options to control playback for both in the new UI.

control playback

For each media, Chrome displays the site and title at all times. For some, YouTube at the very least, it displays imagery next to that as you can see on the screenshot above.

Closing Words

I like the idea of using global controls for media in the web browser. It offers a quick way to pause playback or skip without having to switch tabs to do so necessarily.

Now You: What is your take on this?

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