Changes to Apple’s WebKit policy allow Safari to autoplay silent videos in iOS 10, while pausing those that have sound. The change means users will finally see things like animated GIFs (those converted to video) while scrolling through webpages.
Since the inception of iOS, Safari has always required users to tap videos embedded within webpages to get them to play. Content is loaded in the background so it’s ready to go when you want it, but you still have to interact with it to see it.
In some ways, this is a good thing; you don’t want a bunch of videos to begin playing automatically when you scroll through a webpage if they’re all playing audio. But it can also be a bad thing, since there are webpages that don’t render properly because of this limitation.
However, that’s changing with iOS 10. On the WebKit blog, Jer Noble confirms no interaction will be required to play silent videos.
“Starting in iOS 10, WebKit relaxes its inline and autoplay policies to make these presentations possible, but still keeps in mind sites’ bandwidth and users’ batteries,” Noble explains. Video with no audio track will play automatically, and playback will pause if audio is detected.
Video elements will only autoplay when they are visible, and will pause automatically when they can no longer be seen on screen, saving user data. In addition, video encoded as an inline element will no longer default to fullscreen view when played.
This should result in a smoother and more intuitive experience for iOS 10 users when the update is made available to the public this fall. In the meantime, you can try it out by obtaining the iOS 10 public beta.