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PSA: Google Chrome Now Lets You Permanently Mute Websites That Autoplay Videos (independent.co.uk) 89

Google is releasing a new version of Chrome this week and it includes a number of new features, such as an improved ad blocker and Spectre mitigations. The best new feature in Chrome 64 is the ability to permanently mute websites that autoplay videos. This feature was teased for several months, but now it's finally here. The Independent reports: To mute a site that automatically plays videos, users will need click the View Site Information symbol, which may look like a green padlock, on the left-hand edge of the omnibar -- the address bar combined with the Google search box. Then they will need to select Sound. Once the website is muted, it will not automatically play videos with sound again until you unmute it.
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PSA: Google Chrome Now Lets You Permanently Mute Websites That Autoplay Videos

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  • Autoplay whitelist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 25, 2018 @07:24PM (#56003987)

    How about Google disable autoplay by default and allow us to whitelist sites that we want to allow autoplay on? Give control back to the users. Oh right, users are the product, and Google is focused on their customers (advertisers).

    • Agreed. This solution is nice if there's a few websites that you visit regularly that are so afflicted, but does nothing for random annoying embedded ads, etc. scattered across the net. Personally, any website that autoplays videos on a regular basis just stops getting visited.

      Of course, it might be best to set that as a config option so Joe Average doesn't get confused by it.

      • by flopsquad ( 3518045 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @12:00AM (#56005321)

        Agreed. This solution is nice if there's a few websites that you visit regularly that are so afflicted

        And this story pops up right next to one about CNN...

        Fuck autoplay video at the top of every page, and double fuck turning it into a tiny sidebar video and restarting it after you scroll past it.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          and double fuck turning it into a tiny sidebar video and restarting it after you scroll past it.

          This may be the most annoying "feature" of auto-play videos. Whoever came up with this idea should be drawn and quartered.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            and double fuck turning it into a tiny sidebar video and restarting it after you scroll past it.

            This may be the most annoying "feature" of auto-play videos. Whoever came up with this idea should be drawn and quartered.

            And it should be public. I want to see this bastard suffer.

    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      I'm alright with auto play, but I feel audio should be a permission.

    • by dwillden ( 521345 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @06:55AM (#56006129) Homepage
      This! Just muting the sounds is nice, but it still streams the data downloading the entire video file. Autoplay is evil and needs to be Opt in only. I might want it on YouTube or a similar site. I don't want it on every single news site and blog out there.
  • Mute? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @07:26PM (#56003999)

    How about not loading the videos, period? Why waste my bandwidth for something I don't want to see in the first place?

    Videos should be like Flash: click to play.

    • by tepples ( 727027 ) <.tepples. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday January 25, 2018 @07:32PM (#56004055) Homepage Journal

      Google's rationale behind allowing muted autoplaying video [google.com] is that if the video fails to load, playback is likely to fall back to a GIF animation, which uses your bandwidth even less efficiently:

      Disabling autoplay had the unintended effect of driving developers to alternatives such as animated GIFs, as well as <canvas> and <img> hacks. These techniques are much worse than optimized video in terms of power consumption, performance, bandwidth requirements, data cost and memory usage. Video can provide higher quality than animated GIFs, with far better compression: around 10 times on average, and up to 100 times at best. Video decoding in JavaScript is possible, but it's a huge drain on battery power.

      • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @07:37PM (#56004077)

        >"Google's rationale behind allowing muted autoplaying video [google.com] is that if the video fails to load, playback is likely to fall back to a GIF animation, which uses your bandwidth even less efficiently:"

        Which is why browsers like Firefox ALSO allow the user to disable playback of animated GIFs. Perhaps that should be an option in Chrome....

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Disable PLAYBACK of animated GIF, but it still loads them entirely. The problem is that to even know it's an animated GIF and not just a normal static GIF you have to start loading it... And with the canvas hack you have to try to figure out if some random bit of Javascript is repeatedly loading images into the same space rapidly.

          The only sane option is a uBlock rule that nukes the whole thing.

          • couldnt you drop/reset connection as soon as you download/decode enough of GIF header?

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              Maybe, but the problem is evil web developers will notice this and add Javascript to load some other crap.

              Blacklists are the only really effective measure we have, and companies don't want to get into curating blacklists by hand.

        • Firefox does this to stop bogging down the browser playing many GIFs at a time. It still loads downloads them completely in the background.

          • >"Firefox does this to stop bogging down the browser playing many GIFs at a time. It still loads downloads them completely in the background."

            That is true. So it will stop most of the CPU/battery waste, and all of the annoyance and frustration, but will not help with bandwidth.

    • Re:Mute? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @07:34PM (#56004065)

      >How about not loading the videos, period?

      +100

      Muting videos is nowhere near enough... it is a great start, but not a finish. Many people want that NO videos should ever play unless the user specifically requests it by clicking on something. THAT should be a user choice. Muted videos still chew through bandwidth and CPU and batteries. But most importantly, they are extremely annoying and distracting. And many sites now even force the damn things to FOLLOW the user while they are trying to read an article!

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        But most importantly, they are extremely annoying and distracting. And many sites now even force the damn things to FOLLOW the user while they are trying to read an article!

        You'd think after the pop-up/under/etc bullshit, that sites would realize that there's some stuff that will actually drive users away from your site. But nope! There's always someone that thinks it's the hottest, trendiest, newest and greatest thing since web2.0(or whatever it is now), and everyone has to do it!

        It's like it won't cause people to use adblockers if the ad's start screaming at you or something...

    • Re:Mute? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by h4ck7h3p14n37 ( 926070 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @07:37PM (#56004079) Homepage

      The cynic in me says that Google is taking money from someone to leave autoplay enabled. Whomever at W3C dreamt that "feature" up should be tarred and feathered.

      • Re:Mute? (Score:4, Informative)

        by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @08:58PM (#56004511)

        >"The cynic in me says that Google is taking money from someone to leave autoplay enabled."

        Agreed. It does make you wonder....

        Now, keep in mind that disabling autoplay completely is actually pretty tricky. Firefox has been working on it, but it keeps breaking certain sites or having unintended actions. The muting part is easy. But we need a REAL fix that gives users full control.

        Searching, I found these:

        https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/s... [mozilla.org]
        https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/s... [mozilla.org]

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          The only solutions to this are all somewhat undesirable. As Google point out, the problem is that asshat web devs will try to circumvent anything you do. If you disable HTML5 video, they will load a backup animated GIF that pisses away even more bandwidth.

          Delayed loading might be the best option. When background tabs are opened and auto-play video is detected, just freeze them until the user actually switches to that tab. At least that way they don't start making noise in the background and wasting bandwidt

          • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

            Disabling animated GIFs is no harder than disabling video. Just don't start playback until the user clicks.

            And then the abusers move on to a giant image with sprite animation, but to get a big enough size, the image is huge, so you detect ridiculously large resources and add a placeholder so that the user has to click on the image to make it load. With the image offscreen, the user can't click on it, so it never gets loaded.

            And then the abusers move on, fetching each frame as a separate image, and you ma

    • Re:Mute? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Koby77 ( 992785 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @07:46PM (#56004125)
      Similar to muting sound from a tab, there ought to be a button to cutoff the tab from consuming any more bandwidth. This would shut down unwanted videos, gifs, advertisements, and other undesirable content from loading.
      • I suggested another solution a year and a half ago in a comment to someone's anti-adblock blog [disq.us]. Give each page load a data cap configurable per domain and defaulting to 1,000,000 bytes. Once a particular page load has reached the quota, pause all connections and display a "runaway download" notice similar to that for an unresponsive script. The user can reset the cap by clicking "Load More" in the notice or by navigating to another document.

        I now realize that this naive model of a cap per document would bre

        • by hawk ( 1151 )

          >the browser should let the user define a quota per hour, minute, or user gesture.

          You need that 3-D recognition stuff to recognize the "user gesture" that occurs when some idiot site reloads while we try to read . . . :)

          hawk

  • Click-to-run (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @07:26PM (#56004001)
    Why not treat video like a plugin and let users white list sites we will allow video to run at all on.
  • Better would be to just not allow a video to be played at all unless it is visible in the currently shown tab and window. If it is scrolled either above the window or below it, or if it is not in the current tab at all, then the video should be paused, not just muted.
    • Switch away from the Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, SoundCloud, or YouTube tab playing music, and it gets paused. How would that benefit users? YouTube on mobile already has that "feature" to pause when visibility is lost and puts the disable switch behind a recurring paywall.

  • by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @07:31PM (#56004043)

    I tried this out on CNN. It works, but if I want to hear a video, I have to choose "always allow this site to play audio". It's a bit too fidgety for my liking, but better than nothing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I use FF with an extension to mute all tabs. Only on demand it will unmute. Until this simple interface is implemented, Chrome is out for me.

  • Big Feature! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @07:44PM (#56004117)

    I can see why that feature needed a several month cycle to get into Chrome. I mean, can you imagine the difficulty of implementing and testing that feature.

    Of course, not autoplaying video was a rule for like 20 years, and had the added benefit of loading faster, less bandwidth, and just as many clicks to watch the video.

    • Re:Big Feature! (Score:4, Informative)

      by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @09:04PM (#56004551)

      >"Of course, not autoplaying video was a rule for like 20 years, and had the added benefit of loading faster, less bandwidth, and just as many clicks to watch the video."

      Bingo. It is not like ANY USER really wants to autoplay ANY video- muted or not. As if a single click on "play" or on the video container is too much effort. The only reason for autoplay existing is for web sites to further shove annoying S*** down the throats of the users. It is a huge step backwards.

  • Will it stop Youtube videos from autoplaying? I tend to have a bunch of tabs open at once and if I have to restart my browser (say, for an update...) its a horrid cacophony until I either wait them all out or manually switch to each video and pause it. Somewhere around 3/4 of the addons I use are there specifically to stop Youtube from being so obnoxiously in your face (and the other 1/4 are mostly to stop other videos/scripts/bullshit from auto-running as much as possible.)

  • There must be an easier way to not hear videos which autoplay. Something like a mute option which could be easily accessed from the desktop.

    Perhaps, and I'm just spitballing here, maybe if one's speakers could somehow be turned off so no sound could emanate from them. It would be up to the discretion of the user to turn the speakers on when they wanted.

    *sigh* I guess we'll have to deal with this complexity since there isn't a simpler method to not hear audio.

  • I find that is 100% effective in not hearing things I don't want to hear.

    • When was the last time you saw a desk or laptop computer for sale that didn't have a built in speaker. (try maybe way back in 8086 days? Nope my families first PC was an 8086 and it had a built in speaker.) You are still going to get sound. And even if you have disabled the internal speaker or didn't hook it up on your custom built machine because you plan to use externals you still need sound.

      You've never multi-tasked? Listened to music while working, only to have your tunes disrupted by some autoplay
  • Let the free chrome do all the crap it wants to.

    I am willing to buy a premium or upgraded or platinum edition or whatever the name the marketing comes up with. It should give me better control over video feed. No video, no animated gif, no auto play anything, do not allow the video to relocate itself to defeat scrolling past it...

  • fuck the mute, I want the ability to NOT auto play video content full stop, that includes videos on news sites and fucking Ads
  • Call me when the annoying popup asking if you want to join their email list goes away.
  • Why not just open news (or whatever) sites in a new tab, mute the tab (context menu on the tab -> mute tab), then view when ready? Videos don't start playing in a tab until it's activated, so you don't run the risk of hearing anything until you first give focus to the tab, offering plenty of time to mute it. You can always just unmute the tab if you want to hear a specific video (you can also stop/mute any other unwanted videos on the site before you unmute the tab at your leisure).

    Really, this approach

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