Google Chrome update adds noisy tabs and Chrome OS features

Google has updated its Chrome browser with a number of major new features, with Windows 8 users getting the most extensive overhaul of the lot.

All Chrome browser users can take advantage of the new noisy tab-tracking feature. This displays a little speaker icon on internet tabs that are playing sound, thus eliminating those irritating multi-tab guessing games we’ve become accustomed to.

The feature also lets you know when a tab is using your webcam, as well as casting to your TV.

Google has also improved its malware protection and introduced a supervised user beta feature. The latter allows you to monitor and set restrictions for a particular user account.

Windows 8 takeover

By far the most interesting update, though, is available only through Windows 8. It pretty much sees the humble Chrome browser transformed into Chrome OS-lite.

Chrome’s new Metro mode in Windows 8 allows you to create and easily control multiple browsing windows. You can snap these to the left or right of your display, or expand them to full screen.

There’s also a new Chrome app launcher at the bottom left of the screen, providing easy access to the likes of Gmail, YouTube, and Google Drive. As you might expect, all of these features are fully touch-compatible.

Essentially, Google has managed to sneak its own lightweight web-based operating system right into Microsoft’s own Windows OS. It’s actually made possible by a feature built into Microsoft’s latest operating system, which enables web browsers to adopt the Metro style and capitalise on certain native app functions (like the snap feature).

Sure enough, Google has modified the style of Chrome UI elements like form controls and scroll bars to fit Microsoft’s Metro style.

The latest version of Google Chrome should be rolling out to browsers on all platforms right now.

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