Chrome 66 in April introduced restrictions that prevent annoying videos with sound from autoplaying. However, these new policies came to the detriment of web games and other experiences, with Google in May partly delaying them. Once set to return with Chrome 70 this month, Google is again pushing back these policies.
In an effort to make media playback on the web more consistent, Google Chrome in January introduced the ability to mute audio on a site-by-site basis. With Chrome 66, Google introduced new policies that govern when media can autoplay. In all other use cases, sites that played audio would automatically be muted:
- Content is muted, or does not feature audio
- Users previously tapped or clicked on the site during the browsing session
- On mobile, if the site has been added to the Home Screen by the user
- On desktop, if the user has frequently played media on the site, according to the Media Engagement Index
While benefiting the majority of users — with Google noting that it is “effectively blocking roughly half of unwanted media autoplays in Chrome” — these new rules came to the detriment of games and other interactive web experiences. This required developers to update old sites, and as The Verge detailed today is curtailing some developers from creating web games.
In May, Google rolled back applying these new rules on the Web Audio API used by many of the web experience. Delayed till October, the Chrome team acknowledged its lack of communication on the changes, and would issue more guidance later on.
However, ahead of Chrome 70’s release, Google is pushing back the application of the autoplay policy to Chrome 71 in December. In a comment to The Verge, Google also detailed how the browser will learn what sites users play audio on.
For the Web Audio API, the autoplay policy will launch in M71. This affects web games, some WebRTC applications, and other web pages using audio features. Developers will need to update their code to take advantage of the policy.