Google pleased users of the world’s most popular web browser last month with the release of Chrome 66, which included a feature that blocked the autoplaying of videos with sound. But the company is partially rolling back the change after it was discovered to be breaking a number of web games, apps, and interactive art projects.
Unless users had whitelisted a site or previously interacted with it, Chrome’s blocking feature stops one of the most irritating elements of web browsing: the sudden playing of loud videos. But it’s having the unexpected effect of stopping web apps and games from playing audio, much to the annoyance of developers.
Google product manager John Pallett said that Chrome 66 is being temporarily updated to remove the change as it applies to the Web Audio API used by app developers. He added that the change wouldn’t stop Chrome from silencing most websites’ autoplay videos and audio.
"We've updated Chrome 66 to temporarily remove the autoplay policy for the Web Audio API. This change does not affect most media playback on the web, as the autoplay policy will remain in effect for < video> and < audio>,” Pallet explained.
"We're doing this to give Web Audio API developers (e.g. gaming, audio applications, some RTC features) more time to update their code. The team here is working hard to improve things for users and developers, but in this case we didn't do a good job of communicating the impact of the new autoplay policy to developers using the Web Audio API."
The policy will be re-applied to the Web Audio API in the Chrome 70 release this October. Pallett is advising developers to update their code based on Google’s recommendations before that time. But some devs still aren’t happy about the situation and the deadline they've been given.