Google shoots Chrome 66's silencer after developer backlash

Games and alerts lost their voice to feature designed to hush auto-play vids

Google has tweaked Chrome 66 to make the new feature that silences auto-playing videos less aggressive.

The change was made because while the updated browser silenced videos as intended, it also muted games and sites that use audio for alerts and other purposes

That’s not what Chrome’s developers intended: the plan was to stop auto-playing vids from assaulting your ears and chewing bandwidth.

But the Law of Unintended Consequences is a powerful force. So powerful that this chromium.org thread features lots of angry games-site-owners and other folk whose web apps are now less functional thanks to Chrome’s changes.

Hence a post to the list from Google product management chap John Pallett, who wrote "We've updated Chrome 66 to temporarily remove the autoplay policy for the Web Audio API."

Pallet admitted, “We didn’t do a good job of communicating the impact of the new autoplay policy to developers using the Web Audio API.” Google will therefore “give Web Audio API developers (e.g. gaming, audio applications, some RTC features, more time to update their code.”

But the change is coming back: by October 2018's Chrome 70, the “no unwanted noise on web pages” policy will again come into force.

The “more time for developers” angle is an – ahem – interesting one, because Chrome 66’s beta debuted on March 21, 2018 and discussion of its features played out for several months before that date. It’s not reasonable to expect that every developer will read every post or changelog, even if they need to know about browsers’ nuances. Yet with an alteration of such potentially high impact landing in Chrome 66, clearly more communication was needed. ®

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