Rolling out this week, Chrome 66 also addresses a number of bugs and security issues, and enables users to export passwords to a password manager or as saved files.
Chrome is now by far the world’s leading Web browser, with a 60.6 percent share of the market as of March, according to the Web-tracking site W3Counter. Apple’s Safari holds the number two spot with 15.4 percent of the market, followed by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Edge (7.6 percent), Firefox (7.2 percent), and Opera (2.9 percent).
Move toward Stricter Autoplay Policies
Autoplay videos online do more than produce unwanted noise: they also consume a lot of computing resources, using up both data and power. Google has been gradually rolling out a number of new browsing features to address the issue, and last month announced pending changes to its Chrome autoplay policies.
“As you may have noticed, web browsers are moving towards stricter autoplay policies in order to improve the user experience, minimize incentives to install ad blockers, and reduce data consumption on expensive and/or constrained networks,” Google Chrome evangelist François Beaufort wrote in a March 29 blog post. “These changes are intended to give greater control of playback to users and to benefit publishers with legitimate use cases.”
Among other changes, Google’s updated Chrome policies ensure that users can always mute autoplay, while still enabling them to play a video with sound by clicking or tapping “play.” Autoplay might also be enabled if a user has habitually played audio or video media on a site in the past, based on Google’s Media Engagement Index.
Goal: ‘Better User Experience’
With its release of Chrome 64 in January, Google began making it possible for users to mute the sound on autoplay videos on specific sites. Chrome 66 now extends those capabilities, although some users are already reporting that autoplay blocking does not always work as intended.
In recent months, Google has also started blocking other annoying Web site behaviors that have led a growing number of users to install adblockers, software that directly threatens the ad-based revenues of many large tech companies. In February, for instance, Chrome stopped displaying advertisements on “sites that repeatedly display these most disruptive ads,” Chrome vice president Rahul Roy-Chowdhury wrote in a blog post.
“It’s important that we work to maintain a balance — and if left unchecked, disruptive ads have the potential to derail the entire system,” Roy-Chowdhury said. “We’ve already seen more and more people express their discontent with annoying ads by installing ad blockers, but blocking all ads can hurt sites or advertisers who aren’t doing anything disruptive. By focusing on filtering out disruptive ad experiences, we can help keep the entire ecosystem of the web healthy, and give people a significantly better user experience than they have today.”
Image credit: Google/Chrome; iStock/Artist’s concept.