Facebook has confirmed to Mashable that it is testing a new version of autoplay videos in its iOS and Android apps – one that automatically plays the audio also as you scroll through your newsfeed. This contrasts with the normal behaviour, which autoplays the video in silent mode, a tap required to switch on the audio …
It is also testing a third variant, which plays videos silently but has an icon allowing users to switch on sound for a particular session. Facebook says that both sets of users will have the option of switching off the feature in Settings.
“We’re running a small test in News Feed where people can choose whether they want to watch videos with sound on from the start,” a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable Australia. “For people in this test who do not want sound to play, they can switch it off in Settings or directly on the video itself.”
As Mashable notes, it’s strange that Facebook is testing such an intrusive feature when its own research shows that 80% of users react negatively both toward it and the advertiser when videos autoplay loud sound unexpectedly. Fortunately the trial is so far limited to Australia, and I for one will be hoping that negative feedback there will dissuade Facebook from rolling it out more generally.
On a more positive note, Facebook is also testing Secret Conversations, which offers selective access to end-to-end encryption in Messenger chats. The current version of the app gained new 3D Touch features last month.