One of the most annoying things about browsing the web is autoplaying videos. In my experience, news websites such as CNN are particularly egregious with blaring videos as I’m trying to read the article. Google previously hinted that they were testing muting features last month. Now it appears it will be rolling out for all users.
Google detailed the changes in their Chromium blog stating, “Starting in Chrome 64, autoplay will be allowed when either the media won’t play sound, or the user has indicated an interest in the media”
Videos will only autoplay if the user has clicked or tapped (if on mobile) somewhere on the website. Auto play will also be limited If the site has been added to the home screen or if the user has frequently played media on the site before.
While Google claims that autoplay can make media “faster and easier to consume”, they also admit that unexpected media playback is one of the biggest complaints users have. Not only can they be annoying but they can consume battery life and data. These changes make “autoplay more consistent with user expectations and will give users more control over audio.”
Additionally, Google is introducing a new site muting option to Chrome 63 (which comes out in October).This option allows users to completely disable audio for individual sites. The site muting option persists between browsing sessions which means you won’t have to continually mute the offending website every time you open up your browser.
Google has further recommendations for developers who insist that the world is a better place with autoplaying videos:
- Use autoplay sparingly. Autoplay can be a powerful engagement tool, but it can also annoy users if undesired sound is played or they perceive unnecessary resource usage (e.g. data, battery) as the result of unwanted video playback.
- If you do want to use autoplay, consider starting with muted content and let the user unmute if they are interested in exploring more. This technique is being effectively used by numerous sites and social networks.
- Unless there is a specific reason to do so, we recommend using the browser’s native controls for video and audio playback. This will ensure that autoplay policies are properly handled.
- If you are using custom media controls, ensure that your website functions properly when autoplay is not allowed.
- Prompt users to add your mobile site to the homescreen on Android devices. This will automatically give your application unmuted autoplay privileges