Google Releases Chrome 66 To Help Mute Annoying Autoplaying Video By Default

Mute Button

Over the coming days and weeks, Google will push out a new build of its Chrome browser that will introduce several fixes and improvements. Perhaps the most welcome change included in Chrome version 66 is a new feature that mutes sound when a website automatically plays a video. This is one of the biggest annoyances on the web, especially if you leave the volume on your PC or mobile device turned up, and it’s nice to see Google taking action.

This is a feature that Google has been working on for a long time, and initially planned to roll out earlier. Instead, it previously implemented the ability to block sound on a site-by-site basis. As of Chrome 66, however, sites are only allowed to automatically load and play videos if the sound is muted. That means you are still likely to encounter autoplaying videos, but should not hear unexpected audio blaring from your speakers.

There could be exceptions. On the desktop, whether a video autoplays or not is determined by Google’s Media Engagement Index (MEI). Here are the new policies:

  • Muted autoplay is always allowed.
  • Autoplay with sound is allowed if:
    —User has interacted with the domain (click, tap, etc.).
    —On desktop, the user’s Media Engagement Index threshold has been crossed, meaning the user has previously play video with sound.
    —On mobile, the user has added the site to his or her home screen.
  • Top frames can delegate autoplay permission to their iframes to allow autoplay with sound.

So, there are some instances where videos with sound might still play automatically, based on your browsing behavior. For the most part, however, users should not encounter unexpected audio. Also, you can view your own MEI for various websites by typing chrome://media-engagement/ into the address bar.

Other changes to Chrome mostly include bug fixes for improved security. Related to that, Google is trialing a Site Isolation feature to small percentage of users in preparation for a broader launch. Site Isolation is designed to improve security and help mitigate the risks posed by Spectre.

If you don’t want to wait for Chrome to update itself, click on the three dots in the upper-right corner and select Help > About Google Chrome.

Top Image Source: Flickr via hottholler

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