Global Media Controls Are Getting Better Fast For Chromebooks

Google Play Music Card Notifications Chrome OS AH 2019
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Global media controls have undergone significant changes since they were last spotted heading to Chromebooks. That's based on recent reports detailing the alterations, now available in the Chrome OS Dev Channel.

For clarity, the global media controls in question are geared toward solving a media control problem that's been with Chromebooks since the beginning. Namely, they're aimed at making it easy to manage all media playback without needing to navigate to the source app or website.

Now, Chrome OS had displayed those controls as notifications. So users can simply open up the same UI that was used to access quick tile settings to see the controls. Specifically, the UI tucked behind a click or tap on the clock on the Chrome OS shelf. That has been in place for quite some time now but wasn't the most intuitive interface. Especially when there are dozens of notifications to scroll through to find the controls.

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Google has been working to change that by first fully-integrating the media playback control into the quick tiles area. With the newest update in place, it's no possible to click or tap on media that's being played in the UI. From there, Chrome OS allows users to pin all media controls under a dedicated icon next to the clock region of the shelf.

Then, users can click the media control itself to gain quick access to playlists and deeper controls, as shown in the example images below. That applies specifically to media from sites or apps like Spotify. Namely, those sites or apps where users are likely to want in-depth media controls.

Here's how you can access this feature right now

Now, this feature is already available in the Dev Channel of Chrome OS. So users who are on that beta channel can already check it out for themselves in a few short steps.

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  1. Navigate to the 'chrome://flags' URL
  2. Use the on-page search to find "#global-media-controls-for-chromeos"
  3. Click or tap the drop-down menu next to the "global-media-controls-for-chromeos" option
  4. Select "Enabled"
  5. Restart Chrome

When will the new Chrome OS global media controls arrive for everybody?

Now, it should be pointed out that global media controls for Chromebooks have been in the works for some time. They first appeared back in Chrome OS Canary 77. But that doesn't mean they'll be arriving anytime soon either. Since being introduced, they've undergone some fairly substantial changes, just for starters. But there are also likely significant changes that need to be made before they're ready for primetime.

All of that makes pinning down a timeline effectively impossible. The development of this feature is happening fast but users probably shouldn't expect it to arrive in the near future.