Parental controls, webcam indicator and relief for noisy tabs added to Google Chrome

This post is adapted from one that first appeared on Forbes.com

Parental controls: Supervised user

For parents, Google has added the ability to create a “supervised user,” which is enables you to monitor the browsing history, block specific sites and approve sites that the user can access. Obviously this is a good parental control tool but could be used for other types of users as well. Employers, for example, generally the right to monitor or limit what they’re employers can do on work machines.

Here are Google’s instructions for creating a new supervised user

  1. Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu on the browser toolbar and select Settings.
  2. In the “Users” section, click Add new user.
  3. Choose a picture and enter a name for the supervised user.
  4. Check the box next to “This is a supervised user managed by <your email address>”. If the checkbox is grayed out, you’ll need to sign in to Chrome before you can proceed.  (Source: Google)

Once you’ve set up a supervised user, you can monitor and control their activity from a dashboard that you can access when signed in to your own account.

In the example below, the supervised user earlier access Playboy.com (we know because you can monitor the person’s behavior) but that won’t happen again, because the site is now blocked for that user.

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Webcam indicator

Another important new feature is a red circle that shows up if the tab has opened your webcam. For obvious reasons, it’s a very good idea to know if you might be webcasting live.

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Red indicator shows that webcam is on

Noisy tabs

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The speaker on a tab (red circle added by me) shows where the sound is coming from

The newest stable version of Chrome (version 32) now has parental controls, relief for noisy tabs and better support for Windows 8.

There is now an indicator to show which tabs playing audio, whether it’s music. the spoken word or the sound track of a video. It’s a big help for those of us who hate having to listen to sound that we don’t get to control. If you suddenly hear some audio coming from your speakers while in Chrome, you can identify the tab, click on it and shut down the source of the sound.

This new indicator in Chrome is great, but it would be even better if web developers stopped playing music without the user clicking on something to start it. I’ve had numerous situations where I’ve been working in blissful silence or perhaps listening to another audio source or talking on the phone, only to be interrupted by a sound that I never asked for. It’s even happened to me when I’ve been on live radio (I am the tech analyst for CBS Radio News) to the point that I now try to remember to turn off my speakers before I go on the air.

Windows 8 

Google has also added a “Metro” interface for Windows 8 users, optimized for touch screens.

Last November Google added supervised accounts to Chromebooks, but this is the time it’s been available on a non-beta release for Windows and Mac users.

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