Perhaps one of the most irksome things about browsing the web today is encountering pesky autoplaying videos. Not only are they often annoying and intrusive, they also consume a lot of data, which isn't ideal for those browsing over a mobile network. That behavior will soon change in future versions of Google Chrome.
Google Chrome Autoplay Blocking
Google has announced that version 64 of Chrome will automatically block autoplaying videos with sound.
There are some exceptions. Chrome will still let videos autoplay under two conditions: provided they don't have sound, or if the user has indicated interest in the media. This will enable videos to autoplay only when users actually permit it, and respect their wishes when they don't, according to Google's blog post.
"Interest in the media" involves a variety of factors. Chrome will take into account if the user has frequently played the media in the past, if they've tapped or clicked on the screen while visiting the site, or if they've added the site to their home screen on mobile.
At the same time, Google is also removing some its protections against autoplay on Chrome for Android. For instance, it's going to get rid of an existing "block autoplay" setting, and in addition, it will get rid of autoplay blocking on mobile when Data Saver mode is on.
Such changes seem counter-intuitive, though Google argues it will help the new "muted autoplay" feature more reliable. But as TechCrunch notes, removing the option to manually block autoplaying videos actually just means users will encounter them more often — only in a way that's not as intrusive as before.
Google Chrome Site Muting
In addition to blocking autoplay, Google will also introduce a new option within Chrome 63 that will allow users to mute audio for individual sites. Chrome will remember the user's site muting preferences, allowing a slight form of user customization.
Ultimately, users have to hope that this approach to blocking autoplaying videos will help them consume less data on mobile devices.
Developers who still insist on autoplaying video can read Google's guidelines on the subject. Generally, Google encourages developers to use autoplay sparingly. Alternatively, they can opt for muted content instead, which is less intrusive. This way, videos will still autoplay, but it'll be up to users if they want to enable sound.
Autoplay blocking rolls out via Chrome 64. Individual site muting rolls out via Chrome 63, which is due for release this October.