The future of loud autoplay videos is in doubt, and we’re stoked

Nothing autoplaying here.
Image: SUSANA BATES/Getty Images

Browsing the web is an integral part of most people’s VROOM VROOM I’M A CAR COMMERCIAL AND NOW I’M IN YOUR BRAIN GOOD LUCK FINDING MY TINY MUTE BUTTON lives, but that process is frequently a jarring one complete with loud autoplay ads and video making it difficult to focus on what’s in front of you. 

Google, however, has decided to do something about that. Starting in early 2018 will block autoplay video with sound on its popular Chrome browser. 

But what does this mean for the internet ecosystem as a whole? Google is an advertising company, so why would it take a stand against any type of ad? Could Edge, Safari, and Firefox soon follow suit, and how will this move affect surfing the information superhighway (yup) on our smartphones? 

Could we soon be heralding the end of noisy autoplay video?

To get a look at where we’re going, we first need to take stock of where we are. At the time of this writing, neither Chrome, nor Safari, nor Firefox, nor Edge automatically disable autoplay videos by default. Many, to some extent, allow you to change settings in order to prevent loud WOW HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS THING TANGENTIALLY RELATED TO THE STORY YOU CLICKED ON JK OF COURSE YOU HAVE BECAUSE I’M TELLING YOU FUN RIGHT I KNOW video from blasting you the moment you open a webpage. But the options, if they exist at all, are frequently buried deep in browser configurations. The default, across-the-board block proposed by Google is the latest in a new trend. 

Notably, macOS High Sierra Safari 11, which is set to be released Sept. 25, will reportedly automatically block autoplay videos with sound as well. The “with sound” part being the key — muted videos can still autoplay. However, from a user perspective, most people will be pleased as that unwanted ear barrage DON’T YOU LOVE AUTOPLAY VIDEO WITH SOUND I’M JUST HERE TO INFORM YOU OF WAIT WHAT ARE YOU DOING NO STOP THAT is by far and away the most frustrating part of autoplay videos. With Apple and Google clearly forging ahead toward a partial autoplay-less future, it can’t be too long before Firefox and Edge follow suit — or risk getting left in the dust.

But what about mobile? Will the smartphone be the last bastion of the jingle-filled autoplay ad? Nope. According to Apple Insider, mobile Safari already pauses autoplay PLEASE PLEASE I JUST THOUGHT MAYBE WE COULD BE videos with sound (although it allows those to play that are muted). Chrome for mobile, meanwhile, has allowed muted autoplay videos since 2016 — emphasis on muted. 

It would seem that the revolt against online ads, as evidenced by numerous ad-blocking browser extensions, has extended to autoplay video, and companies like Google know they need to make autoplay video more palatable if it’s going DON’T MUTE ME DON’T TAKE AWAY MY VOICE I NEED MY to survive the mass of blockers surely coming for it. Hence, the battle against sound — people are more likely to let a video run off to the side if it’s not yelling at them about the latest feline supplement or whatever. 

So get used to a slightly more pleasant NO NOT THAT NOT TH browsing experience, because starting early 2018 the web is going to just a tad bit quieter. 

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Tags: ads autoplay big-tech-companies chrome edge firefox safari tech video

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