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New autoplay policy in Chrome (blog.google)
169 points by AndersSandvik on May 6, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 174 comments

> As you browse the web, that list changes as Chrome learns and enables autoplay on sites where you play media with sound during most of your visits, and disables it on sites where you don’t. This way, Chrome gives you a personalized, predictable browsing experience.

Predictable in a user application is the same result from the same action every time. UX changing based on opaque logic and heuristics is anything but predictable.

yeah, this seems like such an intense thing to do

My bet is that they did this to not break Youtube. I mean it makes sense (you don't want video sites to not work) but it's also such a hacky sort of thing

I don't get why they couldn't make this a permission thing like a mic. Ask the website to allow autoplay.

> My bet is that they did this to not break Youtube.

Which is fine to me. If I go to a website specifically for videos, I want it to autoplay, having to press play is a pointless action.

If I go to a website to read articles, I do not want autoplay, and I definitely don't want the video to even follow me around as a tiny minimized window when I scroll down and yes I will close the tab or press back pretty quick if that happens (as I come to the realization the effort to read this article is not worth the gain and realize that I probably was procrastinating anyway to end up on that article in the first place so should do something more productive). If it's interesting enough I will play the video myself, preferably with full control of its time slider myself and preferably without it auto-starting an unrelated different video after this one was done.

I may go there to view a video, but that does not mean i want it to start playing the moment the page starts loading.

Then the preference differs per person. Optimal for me would be if anyone can create a personal whitelist of websites that may autoplay :)

EDIT: or "learn" I guess, let's see how long it takes to learn my simple whitelist and how often it will randomly decide to change :p

that's why it's learning from your actions

Not the same thing, if going by the article. If I eventually play all the videos, at my own leasure, it will still learn that I play the videos and start playing immediately when the page loads.

That's the rub. How do you differentiate between the articles thing and the video thing?

You get a convenient way to enable auto play on that website only.

That's exactly what they did, but they pre-populated the whitelist with 1000 entries of video streaming sites. If you want to add your own, simply press play in the respective site.

That would mean everyone will have to "whitelist" Youtube and allow playback after updating Chrome. No way this "option" gets the stamp of approval from Google management.

> and I definitely don't want the video to even follow me around as a tiny minimized window

Why the hell did this become a standard pattern on news sites anyway? It's the WORST.

Killing autoplay wouldn't break Youtube for me. I love Youtube and mostly hate autoplay. What's so bad about clicking a play button?

>I don't get why they couldn't make this a permission thing like a mic. Ask the website to allow autoplay.

Allow location access? Y/N

Allow autoplay? Y/N

Safe this password? Y/N

Translate website? Y/N

This website uses cookies. OK

Do you want our newsletter? NO

Yeah, I don't know either. Adding to that list sounds like a great idea.

Things are so bad now that I keep my earphones plugged in but not in my ear. It's easier than trying to quickly hit mute when I'm surprised by a site and disruptive blaring starts.

The problem is, when you do want to listen to something, if you're a 200+ open tabs across 10 windows in FF/Chrome user like me, tracking down the individual tabs that are playing audio is damn near impossible.

And please someone don't say I'm doing it wrong....why can't browser programmers expose a list of tabs playing audio, and allow navigation to each from that list? (And the same goes for tabs consuming excessive CPU - in FF, I can see the offending websites in about:performance, and I can close the tab from there, but what if I wanted to navigate to the tab instead?)

> I don't get why they couldn't make this a permission thing like a mic. Ask the website to allow autoplay.

...because then it's not autoplay anymore?

"Allow this website to automatically play videos in the future" sounds exactly like autoplay to me. Just not the first time.

I have developed an instinctual reaction to automatically deny permissions like remotely that for any website, and I think most people have. Websites asking for permission to send notifications provokes the same irritation. I think - "I am in the middle of doing something, I don't want to stop and think carefully about permissions for some vague and abstract future encounters, I want the annoying dialog to go away and the site to get out of my way."

Notably though: If some dialog like this came up even on a specific site like Youtube where I would almost invariably benefit from granting those permissions, I think there is a huge percentage chance I would knee-jerk deny the permission even when if I stopped to think about it, denying that permission would probably make my user experience worse. Lastly, there is an almost infinitesimal chance of me ever seeking out the settings to re-evaluate my choice on this.

The only websites where I have allowed notifications are discord and slack. I can't see any reason why a news site should be allowed notifications. I know why the site wants to send me notifications - alert on new articles loaded, draw me back in, keep my traffic, just like why they want me to install a native app - but I can't see the benefit to me.

Still, if I've managed to allow notifications to slack/discord I'm sure I could figure out allowing autoplay on YouTube/twitch.

That’s because websites developers haven’t learnt the 5-years-old iOS UX pattern of not asking for privacy permissions the moment the user opens the app but later in a more contextual way. Eg: request for contacts permission when the user is explicitly looking for a friend to share something.

In incognito mode every time is the first time. No thank you very much, there are way too many "don't show this again" messages to go through already.

eh, as a user, it's not really predictable to me whether any given click will result in something autoplaying or not, it already feels like a crap shoot.

I think it depends a lot on how stable the learning is. If it converges and becomes harder to unlearn, eventually you'll be working from a stable platform... but it doesn't carry over to another browser unless you use the sign in feature. So you'll get a stable experience within a browser but not between browsers of the same make/model.

> unless you use the sign in feature

Which then becomes yet another reason to use the sign in feature, and yet another reason to stay with the same browser brand.

Dark pattern. Why are we signing into browsers again? Happily using FF without that bullshit.

hi, it looks like you are writing a web browser. I can help with it.

(hope kids still remember clippy)

100%. And it’s like they have forgotten anybody ever shares computers in a family. Google has lost the plot lately.

Get used to it, based on recent communication from Google one of their big new goals is using ML to improve... everything.

Of course they threw the word "learn" in there to make it sound like advanced new tech, but this seems like something that can be done with simple heuristics (as opposed to machine learning).

> Chrome does this by learning your preferences... This way, Chrome gives you a personalized, predictable browsing experience.

In my experience, "learning" and "predictable" do not go together.

Agreed, it should just be a permission like any other. If I'm on a website where I expect to play media I can remember the preference.

They probably don't want to break websites (as autoplay has no permissions model), but breaking the most annoying feature on the web right now is a good thing.

This has already been possible. You can disable sound for all websites in chrome://settings/content/sound

Then, you can enable sound manually for each site in the site settings panel.

Wow, I never knew this! I will definitely be doing it now. Does anyone happen to know if this will overwrite this new learning setting?

In Chrome I can type Ctrl+L You <TAB> <Search Query> <Enter> to search YouTube. Chrome figured this out on its own by learning that when I type "You" I usually mean "YouTube". Ever since then that behavior has been very predictable for me. Why would Chrome learning what sites I usually play video on be any different?

Reminds me of fuzzy matching systems like Alfred that will try to learn which key combos you use to launch each app instead of trying to offer you predictability.

But "fi<enter>" never launches Firefox anymore because of that one time you accidentally launched Finder instead. And since you keep accidentally launching Finder that way, it never learns that you want Firefox.

So you try "f<enter>" but you accidentally launch Flux. And because you keep forgetting it thinks "f" = Flux, it always launches Flux.

So you have to use "fir<enter>" to launch Firefox. But "fire<enter>" somehow launches Firewatch, a game you forgot you had installed on your laptop.

It's the most obnoxious system ever where each additional keystroke reorders the entire fuzzy result list in the name of "learning." It really is the opposite of predictable.

And then there's Chrome, where you can start typing something in the URL bar, and it comes up with some results immediately, but in the milliseconds before you select a result it changes to something "better" so you go to the page instead. Infuriating.

I have pretty much the opposite anecdote: to me the Chrome URL bar is a magic component that finds any of the tickets I've lately worked on (from three different ticketing systems) with typing a few words/characters, knows that "n" is HN etc, "g" takes me to gmail.com etc. And all without any effort to manually teach it.

Google Spreadsheets is where it often fails to work perfectly - hard to get it to take me to the spreadsheets homepage if I don't remember exactly which sheet I want to open.

Honestly, this has been the most annoying part of agency work for me. Every three months I work in a different github repo, so I constantly need to forcefully make it relearn what gi+down-arrow means

I think one problem with the Chrome URL bar it's that it won't show rarely visited sites, so you have to go to history instead.

Try to get it to learn yc = news.ycombinator.com took a fair amount of jimmying to get it to learn it after a browser user switch.

Sounds like the "classic" problem where someone wants to build a reinforcement-learning system (because "self-improving AI" sounds so cool) but don't actually have a suitable reward function that would describe their problem.

Nevertheless, they don't let themselves be caught up by this minor obstacle and use whatever random reward function they can implement with the data they have.

The resulting system won't actually learn to solve the original problem - but it will learn something, so, hey, it's self-improving!

See also: Probably every single recommender system in use. (At least that's my subjective impression)

Quicksilver on macOS solved this by having a contextual "add weight" option for the results returned by Quicksilver. For me it's been one of the most intuitive solutions to this problem, where you can add incremental weight or just pile on +1000 to the result's weight to shoot it to the top.

For me (and relevant to TFA) this is what is often missing from such learning engines; an option to manually intervene when necessary. It's hubris to assume that the heuristics will always get it right, and I would have to imagine there's valuable data in seeing what manual corrections a User makes, so I'm not sure why it's not included more. A .conf file, the "add/remove" weight as mentioned before, just some way for the user to correct the heuristics when they get it wrong. And they will get it wrong, and frequently do.

Unfortunately, macOS does the exact same thing. I'm typing "ph" to "pho", and suddently it matches "photo booth" instead of "photoshop". Absolutely unpredictable...

Fucking photo booth. Perplexed me that the system always things I want that over Photoshop or Photos.

This is the part where Apple apologists get the whole “Siri/Spotlight is bad because they do everything locally and they respect your privacy” thing wrong. Nothing about this problem needs to be done “in the cloud” - their local algos need work.

Yes! Spotlight does the exact same thing. Drives me crazy.

For a while “c” was calendar, “ca” was calculator, “cal” was calendar again. I use launch bar and that has been my only irritation. It seems to continue learning and not get stuck on certain key combos.

I think it would be better to just disable autoplay on all websites, and then let me manually enable it.

I pretty much continue to install Adblock so I can kill the auto-play elements on websites that just should not autoplay.

100% agree.

> This way, Chrome gives you a personalized, predictable browsing experience.

> predictable

What could possibly be more predictable than disabling autoplay altogether?

Google says it enabled autoplay for 'over 1000 sites', but we all know Google only cares about one thing and that is playing more ads on YouTube.

If you do this less computer savvy people will wonder why deezer/soundcloud/spotify suddenly stopped working.

Cynicism aside, YouTube is a typical example of a good use for autoplay. A user clicking a link to YT almost always wants to watch the video. "Predictable" probably wasn't the right word for them to use, but I think this is a reasonable move by Google.

Youtube is the worst, because not only does it autoplay, but for the first 2s or so it's faffing around with JavaScript so no matter what you do in that time it will subsequently start playing. Like, it'll show up as "playing" and you pause it, then leave the tab, and like a second later the video will start despite your having paused it.

(for the record, at least half the time I open a youtube video I don't want it to play immediately)

i'm not sure if this is something on my end or google's, but i've noticed that in the past few weeks whenever I open a youtube video in a new tab (staying in the current tab), it won't play until i switch to the new one.

Firefox definitely does this, though it doesn't stop autoplay when opening youtube on a new tab (I'm okay with autoplay on the same tab, ie directly navigating videos or autoplay function in youtube itself.

I've noticed that too, and it helps, but I tend to navigate with Ctrl(+Shift)+Tab, so eventually I'll briefly skip over it and it'll start playing.

I don't want YouTube to autoplay, most of the time, I'm opening a lot of YT tabs at once and sometimes I need to seek out a specific one I am interested in most.

It would be much nicer if the various plugins I use to control that behaviour wouldn't stop working every 4 months due to another youtube redesign (whether in UI or Backend on the Client).

The sane behavior would be to not autoplay video in tabs that open in the background. (I thought this was the default behavior in Firefox, but maybe not?) Other than that, the only solution is some kind of heuristic. If the reason someone clicks on the page is to play a video, it should autoplay: the click registers my intent. If the page serves some other purpose (channels on Youtube come to mind), nothing should autoplay.

Firefox does this by default. Background tabs do not autoplay, but the foreground tab does.

Huh, I thought this was a behaviour YouTube/twitch did manually as it doesn't seem 100% reliable on news sites.

By the same token so would youporn... But I wonder if they made the list.

Not really. I might want to watch the video but not right now. And then you have stuff like rickrolling, or just a video you want to see what it is before playing. Chrome used to even autoplay YouTube videos in background tabs, so if you cmd-clicked several videos to queue up in tabs, it would play all of them at once. Idiotic.

Even with that in mind, blocking it on all sites with those few whitelisted would be simpler and more predictable.

saying an advertisement company mostly cares about playing ads doesn't register as cynical to me.

Right. Of the main browser vendors, Safari and Edge's conflict of interest is they'd prefer people make native apps over webapps. Chrome's conflict of interest is they don't want you to block ads. Firefox is the only browser with user-aligned incentives (as long as they ignore who pays a lot of their income...)

Hmm I guess this analysis explains why IE has sucked for so long

Microsoft has a long history of extend, embrace and extinguish, IE was just one of those.


> It was in this meeting that Microsoft executives said they intended to "embrace, extend, extinguish" competing technologies, including Internet standard HTML, McGeady said


> we will loose [sic] the Internet platform battle if we do not have a significant user installed base. The industry would simply ignore our standards. Few would write Windows apps without the Windows user base. — at your level, if you let your customers deploy Netscape Navigator, you loose [sic] the leadership on the desktop.

This broke my accessibility extension for Chrome that lets users control the browser with their voice instead of hands.

Since voice isn't counted as a "gesture" the user can't say "play" to start a a video.

It's not just autoplay it's any sort of dynamic (js initiated) playing of media.

Hey, would you mind sharing the extension you are using? This should not happen and I would like to help fixing it.

Curious why you say it should not happen? Do you mean technically -- if so, how?


I added an ugly workaround, a slide to the tutorial that asks users to go into their flags and allow autoplay without any gestures. Chrome extensions should have better privileges for playing videos, fullscreening etc. IMO but it all needs to be hacked around limiting extensions.

I think the real rub here is that the developer of the website doesn’t know if Autoplay is going to work or not. From what i read on this the site doesn’t not get access to any information on if Autoplay did work or is going to work. For many business type of applications this is critical as being as low friction as possible is very important. Autoplay for a web conference, for example, makes perfect sense. But the JavaScript developer doesn’t know if this event failed or worked. Plus what if you aren’t in active development on your product that relies on this? You have to go modify functionality that has been perfectly fine for years.

I also don’t like how quick google is to make such unilateral changes and just boom there they are in production on the web. Good luck Keeping your site browser agnostic. The but ticket for this feature even advised that site developers check to see if the browser is chrome first and then do different logic. What a mess.

Can we find this auto-generated list of enabled/disabled sites anywhere? Can it be edited manually? Will Chrome notify why a particular site did/didn't auto-play a video?

I like Inbox's recent behaviour that explains why it deems a particular email important - it would be good if this sort of explanation was more prevalent with publicly-available ML systems.

Gah. A blob with no info about it.

Looking a little further, it appears to be a ProtocolBuffer file, but would a bit of documentation hurt?

An early version of the proto I found is:


So the proto is a red herring, it's basically just a container for a blob in some other format.

https://chromium-review.googlesource.com/c/chromium/src/+/80... contains a lot of related files, including https://chromium-review.googlesource.com/c/chromium/src/+/80... which explains the format.

I'm surprised that there isn't a plain text version of the list checked in somewhere, but maybe I just missed it.

Also, I wonder where chrome stores the user’s autoplay history? Will it be cleared when wiping history? Cookies? Or is it never wiped, leaving a record of visited sites in its storage?

Preroll (IMA3) integration with an HTML5 video player is a really tricky dance when you’re trying to support mobile/desktop browsers with a resilient and consistent video player experience. Autoplay has been one of the most difficult differences to manage across browsers.

There’s no browser api that tells you if autoplay is supported, and you won’t get meaningful errors when you try to autoplay when you can’t.

Ultimately the right solution is to just-don’t-autoplay-ever, but it’s a hard sell when you see a 20-40% drop in VOD begins when you remove autoplay.

I’m not sure how to even approach Chrome deciding to autoplay “sometimes”. You have to tell the video player to autoplay a video a.m3u8, but swap that out for preroll.m3u8 before you know if any of it is going to work at all. If it fails, you’re gonna see weird errors in IMA3, or at the video player level, none of which really help you decide how to gracefully handle the situation.

So yeah, if you have client-side preroll, just don’t autoplay I guess.

> Ultimately the right solution is to just-don’t-autoplay-ever, but it’s a hard sell when you see a 20-40% drop in VOD begins when you remove autoplay.

Which tells me that with autoplay enabled, 20-40% of people are probably clicking 'stop' just after the video starts playing, so aren't watching your content anyway.

You’d need to track your minutes watched per video to see if there’s a drop. I threw an in-exact percentage out as an example, but from what I recall on my last project with video, minutes watched per video went up, not down. Autopilot features work better than you would think...

That means a bunch of ifs in our player code. If iPhone then do that, if chrome then do this, if firefox ... what if chrome, try to autoplay, wait three seconds, fail, disable autoplay, wait for user interaction to run preroll. We'll see how will this end up for our VOD numbers.

>s you browse the web, that list changes as Chrome learns and enables autoplay on sites where you play media with sound during most of your visits, and disables it on sites where you don’t.

What about disabling autoplay even without sound? Unwanted autoplay videos burn through battery even while muted.

They're just modernizing the idea of a GIF. The GIF format was used long after it should have been obsolete, because despite its limitations, it had the key advantage of providing simple, silent animations that autoplay.

Now a lot of "GIFs" aren't in GIF format, they're videos with no sound, and that makes a lot of sense because it's 2018 and we've learned some things about compression and video since 1987.

If silent videos didn't autoplay consistently, people would keep using actual GIFs, using way more bandwidth for the same purpose.

you could also block GIFs from animating by default

and data

The best way to improve autoplay is to disable it.


This flag doesn't do what it sounds like it does (and what it should). From https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16367457#16370471:

> Alas, this flag only prevents video that has sound from auto-playing. It’s the inadequate option that my earlier comment was referring to.


> Here’s more: https://www.chromium.org/audio-video/autoplay

> https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2017/09/autoplay-p...


> Quoting the blog post, Google’s decision that ”Muted autoplay is always allowed” is the problem. If any other Chrome users wondered why videos now auto-play without sound (even with this option set), at least based on the relatively minimal docs about this flag, this is why.

Which, sadly, does not actually work for me. I've had it disabled since it first appeared and it has barely made a difference. At least for the news site that play unwanted video. The best I've been able to do in Chrome is to block anything that looks like a CDN using Privacy Badger.

In my experience the equivalent option in Firefox works quite well.

Just tried it. Didn't work. First off the only options are "default", "no user gesture required", "user gesture is required for cross-origin iframes", "Document user activation is required". None of which sounds like "disable autoplay"

Set the flag to "Document user activation is required", restarted browser, went to youtube, videos autoplay

Interesting. Setting this to "Document user activation required" eliminated all autoplay for me.

It seems to work intermittently for me at best. Bloomberg is a notable (notably annoying) example that not only autoplays (though at least without sound) but highjacks your first click on the video (usually trying to pause it) and enables sound instead.

Hmm. Actually it seems to be less effective this week than in the past.

There is no disable option there (at least in Chrome 66).

"Document user activation required" is what you want.

Doesn't work. See above

I block video content distribution sites at the source, via my router.

Ditching Chrome is another excellent and recommended option.

In other words: "If you browse in incognito, you will be punished with annoying videos" It is in the same line with FB's "your experience will be worse if you choose to delete your data"

Why does this system 'learn'. I wouldn't mind a prompt much like desktop-notifications are now. Ask me if a site can auto-play.

If google want this on-by-default on youtube, I wouldn't mind. As an upside, this would make it obvious they favor their own product.

A site-wide setting isn't good enough, every media element needs to require user action. It is ridiculous that isn't a working option, Chrome can't be taken seriously as a user agent.

On a 1366x768 screen, that blog was painful to read. The header and top menu stuff take up about the top 1/4 of the window (and only folds away near the bottom of the page), and the "related articles" takes the bottom 1/4. Clicking the button to hide related helped some.

My autoplay desires are pretty simple. If the site's Youtube, Vimeo, or another site that exists purely for video, I expect videos to autoplay. It'll annoy me anywhere else. I'd be fine with a whitelist. What I like the least about their new implementation is that the behavior of the browser will change on its own. I don't like my software trying to predict me or changing its behavior without an explicit command to do so.

Reader mode (in Safari or Firefox) removes all the cruft

> 1,000 sites where we see that the highest percentage of visitors play media with sound

I hate this shit just like I hate their ads program. Where're all the net neutrality proponents when the popular browser vendor is the offender?

I genuinely do not understand the artist in the replies who says this has destroyed their work. Can't the website require you to click/tap once to start its thing, without negative impact? I feel like I must be missing something. (There's a mention about not updating code for existing work, which might be it?)

For context,here’s how I had to work around this to get autoplaying audio to work on iOS Safari for an educational VR experience I was building:

I start by asking a user whether they want to view the experience in “Stereo Mode” or “Normal Mode”. Whatever they click on, I use that click event to start playing a 500ms long mp3 of silence. When that clip finishes, I use its ‘ended’ event to start it up again. Meanwhile in the render loop, if the user enters an area where I have some auto playing narration, I set a global flag and store the track name in a global variable. Those flags get picked up the next time the 500ms track finishes, and the named track is substituted in.

This is ridiculous, and this is just to play sound files at various points in time. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that some of Cabbibo’s work uses multiple Audio Contexts or other complicating factors that would make it difficult to retrofit.

I'm frustrated too but it's not really that hard. iOS (and Android) have had restrictions for years. My audio library just attaches an event listener to window for touchstart and mousedown and plays one silent sound via the webaudio API. One started there's no need to do it again.

Of course revisiting 10-50 old projects to make them work again is very frustrating

So I tried to explore the site as a firefox user, this is the type of stuff I get: Big warning and messages to install Google Chrome [1][2] without even then attempting to give it a shot in firefox for some demos from what I can tell (I may be mistaken, perhaps firefox is breaking still).

Given the impressive amount of work they put into the site, it's unfortunate a few lines of feature detection and polyfills weren't placed in there, because maybe then this could be a `sed -i /install google chrome/install Firefox/` fixup.

(I say that on the presumption that firefox is now able to handle the multimedia stuff which has been my personal experience with it, though not quite at the same level as the artist, just some pitch shifts and hand rolled synth stuff).

1: https://imgur.com/a/4rMgv7g 2: https://imgur.com/a/j90myrD

Yeah I tried using Firefox too on one of the sites, it didn't go well. No content, enabled JS, a brief menu with some sound effects popped up, then the whole page changed into an invalid HTTPS cert page as if I triggered a redirect or a script tried to load a resource or something else, apparently they're trying to use a github-domain-only cert and I'd have to add an exception. I left at that point.

The artist reaction makes him come across as a primadonna. It's not like there aren't thousands of art projects made from Java applets that either flat out don't work anymore or require an absurd amount of manual steps to get working. The effort he'd need to make to keep things working (which is generally a given for so much of software) is quite a bit less than those artists who banked on the Java (or hell, even Flash) horse.

The artist in question has been pioneering online interactive experiences for years, and through his work (and possibly directly) helped shape the APIs and prompt browser adoption of new standards used.

If you get a "use chrome" message, it's most likely not because the artist is evil, but rather that the experience used tech only available in chrome at the time the work was done.

As an artist, the whole point is to keep exploring and creating. It's not the same as a 9 to 5 where you maintain a company website etc. Going back and adjusting the flow for each experience would be the equivalent of asking pavers to go back and add a bit of plastic to each section of concrete they've laid down for the last five years.

I think the strong reaction comes from the fact that this change was sprung with very little, if any, warning.

I'm an artist and if I want people to be able to access my work I have to do boring stuff to make that happen. I'm thinking of technical stuff like (as a painter) taking good quality photos of my work, fixing colour accuracy of those photos in software, writing code to process images into various sizes etc. Sometimes browsers change and I have to go and change my websites accordingly. But it doesn't have to be technical, artists might spend time organising exhibitions, making canvases, sourcing materials.

Yes, as an artist the whole point is to keep exploring and creating. But unfortunately you still have to do things like pay bills and go to the toilet just like "the others".

This stuff goes alongside and is complementary to the creative work. None of it is present in my mind when I'm working on a painting because I'm in the zone. But if you want to do something with your work other than letting it sit in storage you have to do the other bits too. Thinking you shouldn't have to do any of this extra stuff is prima-donna-ish in my opinion.

I don't think the artist is evil, it does sound like particularly annoying stuff for him to have to deal with. But as an individual user I personally never want any sound or video autoplaying on a website, ever, for any reason. Give me a button to click. For extra non-hatred, don't use a dark pattern.

I understand that creators might say "if you're on my site you're there for the full experience". This is what everyone who ever builds anything thinks though, that their thing is the exception, it really is ok just in this one case. No sorry, this is the internet, all someone has done to end up at your site is click a link, they might not know what it is, maybe they're listening to an amazing album on their great sound system via their computer and don't want it interrupted by bleeps. They might be at work, or surfing in bed with somebody asleep next to them.

I guess the new Chrome policy will be ok for most people but it's going to be yet another annoyance for me. I seem to never fit into the way AI/ML does its predictions and rather than save me a click it usually ends up making me click more as I try to tell it how wrong it is and then try to coerce it into doing what I want. I'm going to hate the future.

Who in this thread has said anything about being evil?

Art needs maintenance just like everything else if you want it experienced beyond the time of its initial debut. Depending on the art, sometimes more, sometimes less. Not really a 9-5 thing unless maintaining others' art is your full time job.

This particular case is more akin to a game engine update changing some APIs, or perhaps akin to converting some archaic RealMedia material to modern formats. The art in question having software as medium matters a lot.

It's ugly and would require going back and modifying all their existing work, is my understanding. According to the docs I saw, any code which expects to be able to just create an audio device at load and start using it will have its audio break completely, by design, and no amount of clicking or interacting will make it come back unless the code is designed to handle this.

Adding a "click to start the experience" button changes the experience. In particular, some users might not see the button if it's subtle, and be unimpressed or think the site is broken. And if the button is not subtle that's bad too.

It's also annoying to have to do such a change to your art for a single browser.

Overall I think the artist's frustration is understandable, but I agree "destroyed" is perhaps too strong a word.

Do we really have to pander to people who can’t find a play button?

How do these people function at crosswalks or in elevators?

Well, crosswalks shouldn't have buttons. Pedestrians shouldn't have the burden of pressing the button in time to cross on the current signal.

Some signals actually do look at the crosswalk buttons. If no one is waiting to cross they keep the lights green in the direction of the most traffic.

That probably works for crosswalks at intersections, but there are other crosswalks with lights. I found a really nice one that turns the lights yellow as soon as you push the button.

I don't have as many webaudio sites as cabbibo but I can imagine that like me he wanted to get new work done today rather than re-visit 20-50 old projects and spend a 1-10 days updating them all to run.

On the other hand I'm happy that ads can't easily play sounds. I do wish youtube had to play by the same rules.

The artist in question has hundreds of pieces of work, many of which he may not have easy (if any) access to anymore. It would take a non-trivial amount of work to fix.

But I think he’s also expressing doubt about creating art/work on the web in the future because of things like this.

It only because of user hostile choices made by browser vendors that it was ever a viable option to begin with and it was a bad bet to think it would last, although Google seems to be doing anything they can to keep things the way they are without directly saying "we'd rather you not be able to stop all media because our business model is to get in your face". No one deserves the unrestrained ability to enter your home and interrupt you in the name of commerce, entertainment, art, or anything else, except maybe emergency.

I agree though it would also be likely if he made them native apps they would stop working as well. Lots of native apps on all platforms stop working without updates. The latest for me is Photoshop CS6 which has a 32bit service that MacOS tells me will cease to function soon >:(

Chrome should have some UI that shows that the tab is muted, and they should have a control somewhere so the user can un-mute the page. Currently when I go to one of those pages, there's no way for me to unmute the page at all.

> Chrome does this by learning your preferences. If you don’t have browsing history, Chrome allows autoplay for over 1,000 sites where we see that the highest percentage of visitors play media with sound. As you browse the web, that list changes as Chrome learns and enables autoplay on sites where you play media with sound during most of your visits, and disables it on sites where you don’t.

Not good enough. I can't even disable autoplay using Chrome's configuration. It doesn't work... but it works on FireFox.

accurate summary: If you don’t have browsing history, Chrome allows autoplay for over 1,000 sites where we see that the highest percentage of visitors play media with sound. As you browse the web, that list changes as Chrome learns.

Not that this would be surprising, but does that mean chrome is collecting user data?

When you use Chrome Sync, Google gathers and evaluates your entire browsing history.

You can forego it by enabling end-to-end-encryption, but since they require a second password for that, the percentage of Chrome Sync users who use this, is probably close to 0%.

It always did.

I just gave up and basically always have the sound off. I occasionally turn up the volume manually for something specific.

Unfortunately this does nothing for moving images (moving ads).

I'm curious if I go to 1000 youtube pages and close in 6 seconds if Chrome will stop autoplay on youtube

summary: google allow 800 of the international youtube domains to autoplay, plus some 200 other publishers to pretend they are neutral.

My interpretation of the article was that chrome ships with a blocklist of websites that have annoying autoplay features, but will automatically remove websites from that blocklist that you usually start by playing their videos, and automatically adds websites to the blocklist if the first thing you do is pause the video.

Youtube probably is not on the blocklist, but it will add youtube to your personal blocklist if you always pause the videos.

Other way around, as I understand it - they have a whitelist of sites that are allowed to play audio without interaction, everything else is blocked by default. (This is implemented in a way that completely breaks audio in a bunch of older web-based games and interactive audio experiences, too.)

Can you provide proof, this is completely unsubstantiated purely from the blog

> summary: google allow 800 of the international youtube domains to autoplay, plus some 200 other publishers to pretend they are neutral.

What? How is that an accurate summary? The whole post is about how Chrome will learn your preference for whether to autoplay on domains, not about how it is whitelisting certain domains.

The browser ships with a pre-whitelisted list. Those sites can autoplay videos from the beginning with no user interaction, which has dramatically less friction than unwhitelisted sites which must get you to interact across 20 different visits. That is a lot of friction.

Imagine if someone makes a YouTube competitor. They won't have autoplay for an user's first 20 sessions at minimum! That's significant

I understand. That's a valid point. It's not a valid summary of the post, when only the whitelist portion is mentioned by itself.

all youtube domains are whitelisted, and there's no way to remove. only add. summary is very relevant still.

I repeat, it's not a summary if you don't even mention the subject of the submission, which is the system to auto whitelist. It's a criticism, or a counterpoint, or even just a useful addendum, but not a summary.

Your point is valid. It deserves to be said. It's still not a summary of the submission, and presenting it as such is not appropriate, IMO. For example, the following would have been a possible way to summarize the submission and also express the additional information you presented:

Summary: Chrome will not auto-whitelist auto-play for domains based on learning your preferences. What Google isn't noting is that they allow 800 of the international youtube domains to autoplay, plus some 200 other publishers to pretend they are neutral.

I guess after that €2bn EU fine on the Google Shopping case they've learned to start pretending to be neutral before the fines.

If this had been communicated as "Improving Autoplay Blocking in Chrome" I think it would have been better received. Because that's just what it is.

Instead I had a sort of loss aversion based reaction where I think now some things will autoplay that didn't before, but in fact fewer things will autoplay full stop.

Why is there no way to whitelist an arbitrary website in my browser with this new scheme? http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901 is broken with the latest Chrome.

...Or you can just use Safari, which refuses to auto play any video with an audio track.

I wonder how much I need to know to predict the outcome for a certain website and how they see what the highest percentage of visitors does.

Do they see through Google Analytics or do they send my behavior to their servers when I am using Chrome?


I'm surprised Google's documentation is not designed with readability in mind.

I'm happy to see that many people here already suggested that this behaviour is NOT PREDICTABLE. In my view thats a must for any device or tool, including software/computers.

I couldn't find a way to detect autoplay failure when using the YouTube iframe API. We can catch promise failure when using a normal video element. https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2017/09/autoplay-p...

Until autoplay can accurately detect whether I am in a setting where battery drain and sound is acceptable, I will still keep it off.

With FF as my browser and a bookmark toolbar. About only 40% is allotted to showing the actual content.

"In fact, in Chrome a significant number of autoplays are paused, muted, or have their tab closed within six seconds by people who don’t want them."

How would they know that without tracking and centrally recording your autoplay actions in Chrome?

From Google Analytics.

The only thing I want is to turn off sound from the start, in my browser at work.

(Unfortunately, the PulseAudio volume control doesn't show Chrome in its "applications" tab before it has played a sound.)

I don't know if that is possible, but you can mute individual web pages (seemingly based on domain name) and they will stay muted until you say otherwise. Works for me pretty well.


I'd rather just see an explicit white list based on user input.

If the heuristics are a good as the Android direct-share menu (which suggest contacts I've never talked to..), I'm not very confident it will be a success.

This site is quite broken in Safari, with the "related articles" bar drifting up as you scroll down.

Maybe I am not the target group but I can not think of a single website with autoplay video w sound.

What am I missing?

More news websites autoplay videos than I'd like to see.

try searching for football (soccer) articles

I wish we could just code up a permission prompt like you have for microphone and geo access.

Autoplay is so annoying. Ive stopped using certain sites that enable it by default

Updated "being eaten" preferences for sheeps from wolf.

Wolf only does this by learning sheep' preferences.

Of course keeping sheeps happy is wolf's first priority.

With that huge `position:fixed` header and footer, only 1/3 of my chromebook's screen height is actually displaying text from that page.

The title looks editorialized - can the scare quotes be removed? They don't seem to be in the original.

The original title is also editorialized, just in the other direction. "New autoplay policy in Chrome" sounds reasonably neutral to me.

Ok, we've switched to that. Thanks!

How about an option to just turn the damn things off all the time? Video should never play until I tell it to.

How are HTML5 games supposed to deal with this? They don't really have media that you click on.

you add a "click to start" button

This is yet another attempt by Google to leverage their browser market hegemony against other publishers. Who wants to bet that Youtube will have autoplay enabled by default in all cases, while other ad providers will have theirs disabled?

This reminds me so much of “Gryzzl” on Parks and Rec.

“We just want to learn everything about you, collect all your data and watch everything you do”

Most of the word I'd like to use doesn't fly here.

But what part of "No, never" does Google not understand?

Nuke Chrome, Android, Youtube, and Web search.

Way to defend Net Neutrality there, by picking which sites are allowed to have certain capabilities.

It catches half of unintended auto plays? So basically Google is rolling with a system that will still annoy you sometimes because that’s what’s best for their advertisement driven bottom line. The faster and more seamlessly ads can get played, the more money google makes.

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