How to Work Around Chrome 66’s Autoplay Feature

Last November, e-learning developers were faced with Safari 11 preventing video from autoplaying on the first slide in Storyline courses. Now it’s time for folks to deal with a similar change in Chrome 66, and later.

The change to the Chrome Autoplay Policy impacts both video and audio on opening slides.

The Impact to Storyline Courses

Learners will now see a play button when they launch or resume a course that has a video on the first slide. For courses that have audio on the first slide, it’s not quite as cut-and-dry—it may or may not show a play button when the learner first launches it.

It all depends on what Google calls the Media Engagement Index (MEI).

The idea is that over time, the MEI will learn if audio was previously allowed to play on a website. Once the MEI has learned that audio is ok to play for a course, it should autoplay again as normal.

Changing the Chrome Autoplay Setting

The good news, again, is learners can fix the issue on their end by changing a setting in their Chrome flag preferences. Although the setting is a global one, our initial testing has shown that ads and autoplaying media on well-known, public sites appear to still be paused.

To make the change, copy and paste this address into Chrome’s URL bar:

chrome://flags/#autoplay-policy

That will take you straight to the setting that we’ll be adjusting, without needing to scroll.

Navigating to Chrome's flag settings

Open the drop-down menu and change the setting to, “No user gesture is required.”

Changing the autoplay policy setting

Learners will need to refresh the page for the setting to be applied. At that point, the auto-playing video and audio will play again.

Changing Our Course Designs

Another option would be to change our fundamental approach to e-learning design. Specifically, avoiding audio and video media on opening screens.

This will likely spark a larger discussion about what it means to ensure an engaging experience, but it certainly is a more scalable solution in instances where we cannot adjust the setting on learners machines.

As e-learning developers, it certainly gives us more control over the situation and the solution, but does it come at a cost to the user experience?

Next Steps

It’s worth noting that Chrome is notorious for changing core functionality with each release, more regularly than other browsers. That said, this workaround may stop working at a later date, without notice.

We’ll continue to monitor this movement in the web-browser landscape, and how Articulate and other authoring tools respond to it.  But one thing is for certain, this is the new normal and it isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.

What do you think? Share your thoughts and reactions in the comments, below.


News and Updates

5/15/18 Google has temporarily rolled back the Autoplay Policy Feature with a new version of Chrome 66 (released on May 15, 2018). This however, will only be a temporary reprieve as Google is now planning to re-launch the feature with Chrome 70, in October 2018.

Articulate has announced plans to develop a content updater for Storyline 360, Studio 360, and Storyline 3 that will allow developers to mass update published courses. You can read more about their plans and approach, here.

We’ll keep sharing updates from Articulate and Google as they become available.

Mike Jones
Mike Jones is an E-Learning Development guru, Instructional Design nerd, and a professional life-long learner. But, at Artisan E-Learning, we know him as Iron Man. As an E-Learning professional, Mike has experience creating E-Learning for audiences of 60,000+ learners. He is an expert with Articulate rapid authoring tools, the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, and never shies away from a challenge.