Google today announced Chrome is going to war with autoplay. Starting next year, Chrome will only autoplay a given piece of content when the media won’t play sound or the user has indicated an interest in the media.
Not all users have the same preferences for autoplay media, so Google has looked at letting users mute and unmute entire websites — we first heard the company was experimenting with such an option last month. This is now part of the browser’s roadmap.
Chrome 63 will add a new user option to completely disable audio for individual sites. This site-muting option will persist between browsing sessions, allowing users to customize when and where audio will play.
Chrome 64 will take the controls to the next level. By this version, Google’s browser will allow autoplay to occur only when users want media to play.
Here is Google’s timeline for making autoplaying sound more consistent with user expectations in Chrome:
- September 2017: Site muting available in Chrome 63 Beta, begin collecting Media Engagement Index (MEI) data in Chrome 62 Canary and Dev
- October 2017: Site muting available in Chrome 63 Stable, autoplay policies available in Chrome 63 Canary and Dev
- December 2017: Autoplay policies available in Chrome 64 Beta
- January 2018: Autoplay policies available in 64 Stable
The company justifies this new approach by saying that while “autoplay can make it faster and easier to consume on the web,” unexpected media playback is also “one of the most frequent user concerns” because it “can use data, consume power, and make unwanted noise while browsing.” A side benefit, Google argues, is that these changes will also unify desktop and mobile web behavior, making web media development more predictable across platforms and browsers.
When it comes to unwanted content while browsing, Google is just getting started. The company announced in June that Chrome is getting a built-in ad blocker. The feature will block all the ads on a site (including Google’s own ads) if just one ad doesn’t meet certain standards. Chrome’s ad blocker is slated to arrive in “early 2018” — right after Chrome has won its war on autoplay.