Google Temporarily Removes Chrome Audio Updates that Broke Countless Web Games

The new Chrome 66, which just released in last month, has roll into trouble recently. With new browser Chrome 66, Google introduced new autoplay restrictions on both mobile and desktop Chrome. But now, Google decides partially and temporarily rolling back a recent Chrome change that blocked autoplaying audio, after web developers complained that it had broken countless games and apps. 


The update rolled out with Chrome version 66 in early May, and it was intended to be a good idea, which allowing users to surf the web without some unwanted interference, but it also raise some questions. As it goes, it also ended up completely removing the audio from interactive web projects that relied on specific commands, which created problems for artists — and doomed any abandoned projects to silence.

 “The team here is working hard to improve things for users and developers, but in this case we didn’t do a good job of communicating the impact of the new autoplay policy to developers,” writes Google product manager John Pallett.

At the center vortex of these complaints is actually from Google’s Media Engagement Index, which is part of autoplaying audio. It is an algorithm that takes into account the duration of media content, whether the browser TAB is active, and the activity TAB is the size of video. However, it is difficult for developers to test the effect of this algorithm on all web pages.

Google has responded to these feedbacks and asked developers to submit problematic sites. So far, however, the issue is still in the internal discussion stage, and Google has not offered a solution yet.

The following statement was posted on the Chromium bug tracker:

Thank you everyone for the examples, they were helpful to our investigation.
We've updated Chrome 66 to temporarily remove the autoplay policy for the Web Audio API. This change does not affect most media playback on the web, as the autoplay policy will remain in effect for <video> and <audio>.
We’re doing this to give Web Audio API developers (e.g. gaming, audio applications, some RTC features) more time to update their code. The team here is working hard to improve things for users and developers, 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.
The policy will be re-applied to the Web Audio API in Chrome 70 (October). Developers should update their code based on the recommendations at: https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2017/09/autoplay-policy-changes#webaudio

This report was originally filed with a user interface suggestion for controlling autoplay. As others have pointed out, this is a non-trivial user interface challenge with a lot of nuances. We are still exploring options to enable great audio experiences for users, and we will post more detailed thoughts on that topic here later.

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