One of the most annoying things about surfing today's web - besides all those ads, of course - is landing on a site and getting blasted by a video that starts playing automatically. Not only does the experience surprise and annoy web users, it can also consume power and use data - which is concerning for mobile users, in particular. Now Google says it will do something about the problem. In the upcoming version of the Google Chrome web browser (Chrome 64), Google will limit the ability for sites to autoplay videos.
As the company explains in a blog post, autoplay will only be allowed when the media itself doesn't include sound, or when the user has indicated an interest in the media. In that latter case, user interest can be determined by a variety of factors. For example: if the user has frequently played the media on the site before when visiting from the desktop browser; if they've tapped or clicked on the screen during the browsing session; or if they've added the site to their home screen on mobile.
However, at the same time, Google is disabling some of its protections against autoplay for mobile users. On Chrome for Android, it's removing the 'block autoplay' setting that's currently available, and it will also remove autoplay blocking on mobile when the Data Saver mode is enabled.
The company says that, by doing so, it will make this new "muted autoplay" more reliable. In reality, though, that means if you've already taken a specific action to block autoplay videos on mobile, you might actually see them play more often as a result of the changes if you're not careful.
There will be some help on that front, however. In addition to the changes coming to Chrome 64, Google will also introduce a new user option within Chrome 63 that will allow you to completely disable audio for individual sites. That means if you have a favorite site whose content you like, but that's abusing autoplay video - perhaps a news site or one with informative reviews - you can simply opt to have that site muted indefinitely.
This change will persist even when you close your browser session, and then later return, Google notes.
Site muting will arrive in the stable version of Chrome 63 in October, while the new autoplay policies will arrive in Chrome 64 (beta build) in December, and then to the stable build of Chrome 64 in January 2018.
Autoplay video isn't the only internet scourge Google plans to address in the near future. The company has already been developing a native ad blocker for Chrome, which popped up in the Android developer build earlier this summer.
That feature will choose the ads to block based on guidelines from the industry group, Coalition for Better Ads. It will include blocking ads like repeated pop-ups or those that prevent you from seeing content until a countdown timer completes, among other things. This ad filter is also set to arrive next year.