Google could soon add a play/pause button to its Chrome browser that would make it possible to pause or play video from any tab. A recent release of Chrome’s Canary development version has a new feature called Global Media Controls, as seen by Techdows, ZDNet and others. Once enabled, a play icon will appear next to the URL (beside the bookmark star) if you have a video playing in any tab. By clicking on it, a larger control pops up that lets you pause, play, or skip forward/backward without actually going to the video itself.

Techdows, ZDNet

The feature could be particularly handy for stopping any annoying auto-play videos, or controlling a YouTube video if you switch to another tab. It would also be a welcome change, considering Google recently removed the ability to mute tabs by clicking on the speaker icon, though you can still right-click on a tab to permanently mute a site. Global Media Controls are more versatile, though, particularly for rabid YouTube watchers, and you won’t need to chase down any offending auto-play tabs.

After playing with the feature for a short time, I found that it could control both audio and video, but not on all sites (it didn’t work with Engadget, for instance). On top of that, the feature was extremely buggy, crashing pretty much constantly when I attempted to use it.

However, it’s still in early testing, and if Google decides to bake it into the main browser, it will no doubt work seamlessly.