Google is adding a helpful play button to the toolbar in Chrome

Google Chrome play button
(Image credit: Future)

Google appears to be on a mission to improve the online media playback experience: not long after adding support for keyboard controls, it's now experimenting with a play button that appears on Chrome's toolbar.

As spotted by ZDNet, the idea is you can quickly stop and restart audio and video files playing in a tab, without having to hunt through the page itself. The feature is now live in the early Canary edition of the browser.

It's part of what Google is calling the Global Media Controls (GMC) package, as per Canary's code, and it should make life easier if you want to take a break from your computer or quickly silence something that's playing.

Testing, testing

It would appear the playback button currently works with sites like Spotify, YouTube and Vimeo, though obviously it's early days for the feature, and Google's engineers are going to improve compatibility and reliability over time.

Quite how long it'll take for the button to make its way to the stable version of Chrome is difficult to say – but it shouldn't be too long before you're able to play and pause music and video from the browser button.

It's perhaps even more effective than the old mute button that used to appear on Chrome tabs, because in this case you don't need to spend time looking for the tab where the audio or video is playing.

While the feature is a little buggy at the moment, you can try it out for yourself by installing Canary and then enabling the "chrome://flags/#global-media-controls" flag (type that address into the browser's omnibox at the top of the screen).

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.