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Firefox devs testing feature to find and nuke noisy tabs

Ian Paul | July 20, 2015
One of my favorite features in Google Chrome is the noisy tab indicator and the early trial feature that mutes noisy tabs with one click. Now, that same feature is coming to Mozilla Firefox--or at least we hope it is. Mozilla developers are actively testing and designing a noisy indicator that appears on a tab when audio is playing.

One of my favorite features in Google Chrome is the noisy tab indicator and the early trial feature that mutes noisy tabs with one click. Now, that same feature is coming to Mozilla Firefox--or at least we hope it is. Mozilla developers are actively testing and designing a noisy indicator that appears on a tab when audio is playing.

Whether the noisy tab indicator will actually make it to the mainstream version of Firefox is unclear. But I was able to grab an early test build of Firefox to see how the feature is developing.

Hands-on with Firefox's very early mute noisy tabs feature

Similar to Chrome's implementation, Firefox's early trials display a noise indicator in your browser tab. If you want to mute the audio, you hover over the noise indicator, right-click it and select Mute Tab. Boom! No more noise. The mute feature also works even if the noisy tab isn't the active page. 

In the test build that I tried, this very early feature only works with HTML5-based videos and not Flash. However, developers appear to be working on implementing the ability to detect Flash audio as well.

As the feature stands right now it feels like a bit of a cheat. In my tests, the browser simply pauses the video when you hit the Mute Tab option. Oddly, the video pause is independent of the actual video player controls on the tab itself.

In other words, if you try to play/pause the video with the usual player controls after you've hit the mute tab control, the video won't start. To get the video going again you'll have to unmute it first via the tab's noise indicator.

It's clear this feature isn't ready for prime time yet--but that's to be expected as the feature is only in the very early test phases. The important thing is simply that it's being worked on.

The impact on you at home: It's not clear when it might land in the stable version of Firefox. At this writing it wasn't even available in the official nightly builds. However, considering how many people love this feature in Chrome, my guess is it's highly likely the mute tab feature will become a standard version of Firefox--as long as the development process doesn't hit any major roadblocks.

The Flash feature crash

While the mute tab feature is still in early days on Chrome as well, the actual noise indicator itself is more than a year old. Google was able to beat other browsers to the punch with this feature, because its noise indicator works with both HTML5- and Flash-based media.

 

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