Yes! Finally! After years of my huffing and puffing about the inability for browsers to deal with the issue of “phantom audio” (that is: “Which of my dozen browser tabs that sound coming from?”), Google Chrome finally shoots a cannon shot in the direction of browser-based audio transparency.
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The fix: A tiny audio icon (the classic speaker-looking deal, which I suppose is universal UX for “here be sound”) now pops up on the right side of any tab that is streaming out sound. (Also cool: A triangle “play” icon pops up in tabs that have running YouTube videos.)
How happy am I to see this come to be? Well, I wrote a post about the topic almost two years ago, and my monumental upset-ness that modern browsers seemed unable to deal with a Web’s worth of streaming (and, often, auto-playing) content bugged me to no end.
Chrome has quickly established itself as a browser that specializes in homing in on and solving the minor pain product points that large technology companies too often overlook. The secret to creating better software often times isn’t loading on more and bigger features—it’s finding out the minor gripes that make users want to throw their computer out a window, and fixing them. It’s impossible to overstate how big an impact these seemingly minor fixes can have for user loyalty. This is a simple feature that couldn’t have taken too much programming muscle, yet is absolutely necessary to deal with the Internet’s ever-larger deluge of streaming content.
So tech companies, take note: Sometimes the best thing you can do for your customers is to spend a tiny bit of effort to figure out what really pisses them off. And then fix it.