Google Chrome Autoplay Policy Delayed After It Breaks Some Games, Web Apps

Yolanda Curtis
May 17, 2018

Google has had to temporarily break one of Chrome's newest features because it was proving more troublesome than the annoying problem it was supposed to tackle.

That's not what Chrome's developers intended: the plan was to stop auto-playing vids from assaulting your ears and chewing bandwidth.

While the move should restore sound to affected sites for now, there are still unhappy developers out there. "The team here is working hard to improve things for users and developers", he said, "but in this case we didn't do a good job of communicating the impact of the new autoplay policy to developers using the Web Audio API". For that reason, the current Chrome version 66 will no longer automatically mute Web Audio objects.

Chrome begins with a list of more than a thousand sites where Google found that the browser's users typically played audio or video with sound. Yet with an adjustment of such potentially high impact landing in Chrome 66, clearly more communication was needed.

While the feature was obviously aimed at web pages with ads and auto-playing videos, it had an unforeseen side-effect of also muting HTML5 and JavaScript-based games. Google product manager John Pallett announced the change in a Chromium bug report thread, saying the autoplay policy has been removed-but only temporarily.

This is, apparently, reasonably easy to do; however, some users have complained that, even with several months to act, not every game, art project, or whatever else will be updated.

Pallett urged developers to prepare for Chrome 70 by following its autoplay instructions for the Web Audio API.

By automatically pausing Web Audio objects when a webpage is launched, the update earlier this month was meant to help silence ads that seemingly begin barking at you when you visit some sites.

However, while Google is planning to bring back the policy in October, Pallett noted that Google has yet to solve a "non-trivial user interface challenge with a lot of nuances".

Have you come across any such unintended consequences on Chrome? Chrome had started to block audio and video that automatically played on certain websites.

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