Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Industry | By Terrell Bush

Google shoots Chrome 66's silencer after developer backlash

Google shoots Chrome 66's silencer after developer backlash

Google released yesterday a Chrome update that temporarily fixed a bug that broke millions of web-based games, some of which couldn't play audio at all, despite whatever tricks and configs users tried.

The original muting of the nuisance videos within Chrome was created to remove one of the annoyances that might have pushed users to install adblocking or other software, something Google wants to avoid as advertising is the primary source of the company's revenue.

A good change in theory, the policies have negatively impacted games and other experiences (according to The Verge) that use the Web Audio API.

Google has made it clear that this is a temporary change and that it has been made to give developers time to change their code.

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. Benji Kay, a developer of web games and audio tools, said: "Simply delaying the enacting of this policy doesn't solve any of the major concerns that have been raised".

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Pallett admitted the company could have done a better job of explaining the impact that the change would have on developers who use the Web Audio API.

One of Google's project managers for Chrome, John Pallett, said: "We've updated Chrome 66 to temporarily remove the autoplay policy for the Web Audio API".

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.

Google has tweaked Chrome 66 to make the new feature that silences auto-playing videos less aggressive. As others have pointed out, this is a non-trivial user interface challenge with a lot of nuances.

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