The tentpole feature in Chrome 66 is a new set of autoplay restrictions aimed at reducing annoying videos that automatically start playing back.
That's not what Chrome's developers intended: the plan was to stop auto-playing vids from assaulting your ears and chewing bandwidth.
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 team here is working hard to improve things for users and developers", he said, "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". Now, automatic mute won't apply to anything using the Web Audio API until Chrome 70, which scheduled for release in October. Yet with an adjustment of such potentially high impact landing in Chrome 66, clearly more communication was needed.
While the original audio policy change blindsided developers, the temporary rollback seeks to give them time to adapt their projects for the coming change but, as some devs pointed out last week, not everyone affected by the change has the ability, time, or resources to go back and retroactively change the code of projects already online. Affected developers will have until then to add a few lines to their code, thus re-enabling the auto-muted audio when a user first interacts with the page. Developer Benji Kay, who specializes in audio tools and games for the web, explained that postponing the policy will not fix the many issues that have appeared. "He writes, "We are still exploring options to enable great audio experiences for users, and we will post more detailed thoughts on that topic here later", he writes".
By automatically pausing Web Audio objects when a webpage is launched, the update earlier this month was meant to help silence ads that seemingly begin barking at you when you visit some sites.
"I believe Chrome could find a policy which accommodates developers while still protecting the principle users should explicitly authorize websites to play sound", developer Andi McClure writes in the Chromium thread. Unless web developers scramble to use the Web Audio API instead of those tags, Chrome should continue to save your ears from unwanted and potentially obnoxious noises while you browse.