Google Chrome will resume blocking web audio in October

Enjoy playing online games that have sound? Brace yourself.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
2 min read
Google's Chrome logo

Google's Chrome browser logo

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google backtracked from a Chrome feature that blocked autoplaying audio on some websites, but the feature will be back in October.

The autoplay blocking, intended to make the web a more pleasant place and to rein in push websites, also had the unintended side effect of crippling lots of web-based games in Chrome. So Chrome temporarily disabled autoplay audio blocking -- though not the autoplay video blocking that also recently arrived with Chrome 66.

On Wednesday, Chrome's developer account on Twitter announced a policy update that autoplay audio blocking will be back with Chrome 70 in October.

It's a sign that Google, while not unmoved by the recent problems, is sticking to its guns about trying to improve the web overall. It's not alone. Other browsers including Mozilla's Firefox, Brave Software's Brave and Apple's Safari, are becoming more assertive by sometimes blocking video, audio, ads and behavior-tracking software on the web.

Google pointed to people's displeasure about autoplaying media to justify its decision to stop it in some cases.

Google pointed to people's displeasure about autoplaying media to justify its decision to stop it in some cases.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Chrome sets autoplay blocking based on a prebuilt list of 1,000 sites, but it personalizes that list according to what you actually do in Chrome. Google also gives advice to web developers about how to get people to enable audio: "One cool way to engage users [involves] using muted autoplay and [letting] them chose to unmute," Chrome Team member François Beaufort said. "Some websites already do this effectively, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube."

It's not clear what changes if any Google is making to Chrome itself. Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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