Google's quest to kill autoplay videos with sound has been a confusing ride over the last year. But last month, Chrome finally went all the way and started muting autoplaying videos on sites by default. Now, Google is changing the way its mute system works... again.
In a blog post on Thursday, the Chrome team announced that the latest version of the browser has already started learning which sites you'd prefer not to mute. This isn't entirely different from the previous update. Before, Chrome would still allow sound on sites where your history showed a tendency to interact with the autoplay video. That caveat was especially important to Google because it owns YouTube — probably one of the only sites on which you might be fine with sound suddenly blaring from your speakers. The new system seems to be a little more forgiving for advertisers.
From Google's blog:
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. This way, Chrome gives you a personalised, predictable browsing experience.
As you teach Chrome, you may find that you need to click "play" every now and then, but overall the new policy blocks about half of unwanted autoplays, so you will have fewer surprises and less unwanted noise when you first arrive at a website.
To be honest, the autoplay plague has trained me to just have my computer muted all the time, and I've barely noticed Chrome's last update. Just today, I was testing it and realised my work computer didn't even receive the latest version of Chrome. This also means I get extra startled when I forget to mute my computer. There are some sites I visit that either bog down my processor or throw up a ton of pop-ups and I end up killing all the bad things in a rage. But Google probably isn't aware of my preference to mute the more subtle sites. In general, my preference is that everything is muted, even YouTube.
The mute feature has slowly trickled out as part of a broader Google campaign to discourage irritating advertising tactics, and it's gone from an option to default and now it's somewhere in between. If you've been enjoying the peace and quiet while you surf the web, I regret to inform you that you may have to spend a little time teaching Google that you just don't want this crap. We've reached out to Google for more clarity on the change.