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Google's Chrome to gag noisy tabs until you click on them

Taking the 'auto' out of auto-play media

Soon, Google's Chrome browser will only play media when a tab is in the foreground, even if it is set to play automatically.

The idea is that you'll no longer need to worry about a tab you've opened suddenly blabbering away while you're in a meeting because it contained media that was set to auto-play a few minutes after you opened it.

"Resources will still be preloaded if indicated but Chrome will delay the start of playback until you actually visit the tab," Chrome evangelist François Beaufort explained in a Google+ post.

The move follows a similar change Google announced last week, in which "non-important" Flash ads will be paused by default beginning on September 1.

Chrome tabs have displayed speaker icons to indicate when they're playing audio since version 32 in 2013, but that just let you know which tab was blaring out sound so you could silence it.

With the forthcoming change, which has landed in the latest experimental Chromium build in the Dev Channel, tabs that you've opened in the background won't start playing auto-play media at all until you specifically foreground them.

"This cool feature prevents obviously user annoyance but also conserves power as Chrome will only consume power once the tab is foregrounded," Beaufort said.

Chrome Dev Channel builds are considered experimental. They're not as risky as the bleeding-edge Canary builds but they're not yet considered Beta quality. Only after they've gone through a Beta Channel cycle will they finally be graduated to the Stable channel. Along the way, new features may be modified from their initial versions or removed completely.

Assuming the tab-muffling feature passes muster, though, it should make its way into the Stable branch of the browser sometime in the fall. ®

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