Chrome partially disables auto-mute feature until October

Ruben Fields
May 17, 2018

GOOGLE HAS been forced to roll back its new autoplay policy for web video in Chrome after it became apparent that it was borking legitimate content.

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

We've updated Chrome 66 to temporarily remove the autoplay policy for the Web Audio API.

Meanwhile, the implementation delay is created to give "Web Audio API developers (e.g. gaming, audio applications, some RTC features) more time to update their code". Web game developers will need to find ways to update their code by Chrome update 70 at latest.

The most recent update, Chrome 66, pauses audio on browser media objects, meant to silence irritating adverts. Yet with an adjustment of such potentially high impact landing in Chrome 66, clearly more communication was needed.

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It's important to note that the change only applies to the Web Audio API. But the feature reportedly also silenced the audio in web-based games.

With the release of Chrome 66 in April, Google clamped down on lots of websites that tried to play video and audio automatically, but the browser doesn't always block autoplay.

Google product manager John Pallett yesterday responded to a long list of complaints from frustrated web game developers on a Chromium bug report page. "He writes, "We are still exploring options to enable great audio experiences for users, and we will post more detailed thoughts on that topic here later", he writes".

Pallett admitted the company could have done a better job of explaining the impact that the change would have on developers who use the Web Audio API. Some requested user interface elements that would allow people to control how autoplay content is handled in Chrome, while others simply wanted their games to play their usual variety of music and in-game sounds. Then, as you browse the web, Chrome updates that list as it learns where you play media and where you don't.

While muting autoplay media is certainly a welcome change to many a user, the new policy had some unseen consequences for countless game developers.

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