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Google has pushed an update to Chrome that essentially rolls back an unpopular policy change from last week that automatically muted audio for auto-playing web-based apps, including many HTML 5 based games and art projects.
While this means that the web games affected by last week’s update should no longer see their audio forcibly and automatically muted, Google notes that the rollback is only a temporary measure and that it plans to re-introduce the policy change in the Chrome 70 update this October.
“We’re doing this to give Web Audio API developers (e.g. gaming, audio applications, some RTC features) more time to update their code,” explains Google product manager John Pallett in a post. “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 temporary change removes the autoplay policy from Chrome 66 for the Web Audio API, though the policy remains in effect for projects that use 'video' and 'audio' HTML tags.
Google says the policy will once again be applied to the Web Audio API in October, and that developers have until that point to update the code in their web-based games and apps according to Google’s developer guidelines.
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.
Even following the rollback, many developers have voiced their complaints in Chrome’s developer forum, with some suggesting that Google should consider making the new audio policy an opt-in change rather than something that is enabled by default. Other devs mention that even a notification to let Chrome users know that the browser has automatically muted audio on a webpage would be a welcome change since the original Chrome 66 change automatically mutes audio without any sort of visual indication.