Google is taking on the irritating trend of auto-playing web videos with its Chrome browser. Starting in Chrome 64, which is currently earmarked for a January 2018 release, auto-play will only be allowed when the video in question is muted, or when a “user has indicated an interest in the media.”
The latter applies if the site has been added to the home screen on mobile, or if the user has frequently played media on the site on desktop. Google also says auto-play will be allowed if the user has “tapped or clicked somewhere on the site during the browsing session.”
“Chrome will be making auto-play more consistent with user expectations and will give users more control over audio,” writes Google in a blog post. “These changes will also unify desktop and mobile web behaviour, making web media development more predictable across platforms and browsers.”
In addition, Google is adding a new site muting option to Chrome 63 (due for release in October), which allows users to completely disable audio for individual sites. The site muting option will persist between browsing sessions, allowing for some degree of user customisation.
However, Apple’s upcoming Safari 11 browser—which features its own auto-play blocking tools—will allow for more granular control, enabling users to mute auto-playing media with sound, or block auto-playing media entirely on specific sites or on the Internet as a whole.
Aside from removing the annoyance of auto-playing videos (those that follow you down the page as you scroll are particularly evil), Chrome’s blocking tools will also help users consume less data and power on mobile devices.
Developers still keen on using auto-play video can consult Google’s guidelines, which include:
- Use auto-play sparingly. Auto-play 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 auto-play policies are properly handled.
- If you are using custom media controls, ensure that your website functions properly when auto-play is not allowed.
In addition to auto-play blocking, Google is planning to implement ad-blocking inside the Chrome browser. The Google ad-blocker will block all advertising on sites that have a certain number of “unacceptable ads.” That includes ads that have pop-ups, auto-playing video, and “prestitial” count-down ads that delay content being displayed.
Google, which refers to the ad-blocker as an ad “filter,” is using a list of unacceptable ad types provided by the Coalition for Better Ads, an advertising industry trade group. The ad-blocker is due to launch in 2018.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK