Some Autoplay Videos Now Blocked in Chrome

Some Autoplay Videos Now Blocked in Chrome

Chrome has been making changes to how ads are displayed in the browser for some time now. In the most recent update of Google’s browser, some autoplay videos will now be blocked, while others will be allowed automatically.

In a blog post, Google outlines how the new autoplay video update works. Now Chrome will learn your preferences when it comes to videos that autoplay with sound. Using your browsing history, Chrome will start enabling or disabling autoplay videos with sound. If you typically choose to play videos on certain websites, Chrome will allow autoplay videos to run with sound. If you typically don’t watch the videos on a site, Chrome will start disabling their autoplay videos with sound.

Even if you don’t have a browsing history, the blog post says, certain sites will have their autoplay videos enabled or disabled as you start building your history. Whichever sites have the most people clicking to play videos with sound will automatically be enabled for you until the browser learns that you don’t want videos played on those sites.

This update comes after Google has already implemented many other ways to avoid certain ads and mute sites that autoplay ads with sound. In February, Chrome’s ad blocking system went live. Their ad blocking is meant to start automatically blocking certain ads that don’t meet their standards. And in January, Chrome introduced a way to permanently mute sites instead of just temporarily muting them while the tab was open.

All of these changes mean Chrome should soon become the browser to use if you specifically want to avoid annoying ads and autoplay videos (especially if you don’t want to deal with browser add-ons). In their blog post, Google notes that their new autoplay video blocking system will block “about half” of the autoplay videos that users want to avoid. Though not a full block of autoplay videos, it should cut down significantly on the annoyance of sound suddenly blasting from your device.

Google in the News—Ads, Image Search, & Gmail Go

Google in the News—Ads, Image Search, & Gmail Go

Google was in the news quite a bit this past week, with updates to their apps, changes to their Chrome browser, and tweaks to their Google Image search. Here’s a roundup of some Google news!

Chrome’s ad blocking has gone live

Google’s Chrome browser has now gone live with its limited ad blocking feature. You may remember our article from last year, which describes how the ad blocking will work. As we mentioned then, the feature works by using the Coalition for Better Ads to eliminate particularly annoying ads.

A website owner whose site has ads that don’t meet the standards set by the Coalition will receive a warning and 30 days to change their ads. If they don’t make the appropriate changes, their ads will be blocked. As The Verge notes, all the ads on the site will be blocked, not just the specific ads that go against the Coalition’s standards. Some of the types of ads that the Coalition hopes to address include ads with autoplaying video and sound, full page ads, and popups.

Of course, this won’t really replace things like AdBlock Plus. Those services block all ads, not just certain annoying ones. But if you don’t want to get another ad blocker, or if you like being able to help sites make money off their ads (as long as they’re not annoying), then Chrome’s new feature will help make things less frustrating.

Google no longer offering a “view image” button

If you’ve saved images from a Google search, you’ve probably used the “view image” button that popped up when you clicked on an image. Now that button has been removed from Google’s image search.

The button was taken down recently, and it’s certainly not to make their users happier. According to CNET, the button was removed because Getty Images (a photo website) was unhappy with how easily people could save their images. Now people on an image search only have the “visit” button available for saving an image, which requires you to find the image by loading the entire page.

This may make some photo websites feel better, but it does add an extra unwanted bit of hassle for users. Of course, you can still save photos from a Google Image search without loading the entire site. Right-clicking an image and choosing “Open image in new tab” will still load the full image. However, many people might not know this option is available. Because of this, removing the “view image” button will likely lead to more people doing what Google wants—going to the page the image is on.

Gmail Go is now out on Android

Google’s newest Go app is now out for Android devices—Gmail Go. Their Go apps are specifically designed to take up less space and use fewer resources on phones so they can be used on older phones or in places with a lower quality connection. Earlier this month, I wrote about the rollout of their YouTube Go app.

Now users can more easily use Google’s email service, Gmail. The Gmail Go app, based on their Play store description, offers all the services you typically need. You can access your different mail categories, get notifications, read emails and send replies (even offline), integrate your other email addresses, and more. But it’s still more stripped down than their full app, so it takes up less space. The Verge notes that images won’t load automatically, while TechCrunch reports that some say fewer days’ worth of emails are synced.

The app is only available to some users, so if you’re looking for a more lightweight mail app, check it out in the Play store and see if it’s available to you.

Now You Can Mute Sites For Good on Chrome

Now You Can Mute Sites For Good on Chrome

Google is now making it easier to stop unwelcome auto-play audio and other annoyances. The new “Mute site” feature in Google Chrome’s latest update can put a stop to unwanted audio coming from the websites you visit.

The newest update to Chrome introduces the “Mute site” option on your tabs. If you open a website and a video begins to play automatically, all you have to do is right-click the tab, choose “Mute site,” and forget about it as the audio stops playing. As The Verge notes, in the past you could only temporarily mute a tab while you had it open. If you visited that site again, then, Chrome wouldn’t remember your preference, and you’d experience the awful irritation of having audio start blaring from your speakers unexpectedly.

With the ability to mute an entire site, though, you won’t have to worry about auto-play videos from that site again. Chrome will remember your preference, so every time you visit the site, audio will be muted. This is a huge help for people who really enjoy the content of a website but have to deal with a video playing in the corner every time they visit it.

Google has been talking about reducing annoyances from certain types of ads for quite some time. Just last month, they announced their own ad blocker would be coming in February (February 15, to be specific). That ad blocking feature will stop certain problem-causing ads, like video ads that auto-play, using certain ad standards.

Google also just updated some of their ad controls, as well. In a blog post, they describe how Google users can now mute reminder ads. This means if you do something like visit a shop online, you can stop seeing ads that follow you across the web reminding you to come back and finish your purchase. In addition, their “Mute This Ad” feature has been updated to remember which ads you’ve muted as long as you’re logged in to you account, as well as to make the feature available on more sites.

The “Mute site” feature will certainly make things easier and less frustrating for people who are regular visitors on certain sites that typically feature auto-playing ads. And the latest updates on ad settings from Google, plus the upcoming ad blocking for Chrome, will make it more convenient to navigate online without encountering unwanted, distracting ads.

Chrome’s Ad Blocker Coming in 2018

Chrome’s Ad Blocker Coming in 2018

Not a fan of ads? If you’re using Google Chrome, you’ll see less of them starting in February. Chrome will soon be implementing their own kind of ad blocking built in to the browser.

Chrome’s ad blocker will be out February 15th. It’s important to note it won’t be all-encompassing—The Verge notes that the blocked ads will specifically be ones that are “spammy or intrusive.” Chrome’s announcement outlines how the blocking process will work. They’ll be using the guidelines set by the Coalition for Better Ads to remove unwanted ads. Websites that are reported and are marked as “failing” will be blocked by Chrome if the issues aren’t taken care of within 30 days.

For those wanting to know more about the Coalition for Better Ads, their website gives a glimpse into their thought process. The Coalition focuses on solving the problem created by web users encountering ads that “disrupt their experience, interrupt content and slow browsing.” The website’s Standards page goes over issues like videos that play automatically, ads that cover a lot of the screen and stay in place, and “scroll-over ads” that take up a mobile device’s whole screen.

Chrome’s built-in ad blocking will hopefully take care of the worst offenders. But of course, Chrome users are already able to use extensions like AdBlock Plus to block more than just the most annoying ads. This leads to the question: will Chrome’s ad blocking be enough to keep people away from more extensive ad blockers? It’s important to note that if fewer ads are cropping up and doing particularly annoying things, people who were considering a full-blown ad blocker might decide not to bother with it. Chrome’s ad blocker will be built in, instead of calling for an extension to be downloaded.

Like Ars Technica points out, Chrome is a widely used and very popular browser, so integrating any sort of ad blocking into the browser “will have huge ripple effects across the Web.” Chrome’s ad blocking gives Chrome even more power over the advertising people see, and it might also make the browser more appealing to people who hadn’t decided whether to switch over. After February 15th, we’ll see how effective the new tool is and what difference it ultimately makes for Google.

Getting Ready for Black Friday

Getting Ready for Black Friday

Black Friday is fast approaching, and if you enjoy the rush of Black Friday shopping, it’s time to start planning out where to find the best deals. Black Friday is on November 24th this year, but of course, in recent years some businesses have started their deals earlier and earlier. Some stores actually open on Thanksgiving Day (November 23rd this year) instead of on Friday. And some places even run Black Friday deals all November long.

Whether you’re showing up to the stores in the early morning on Black Friday or checking out online deals all month long, you’ll want to have some options for catching big deals and comparing the deals between stores. There are print ads, of course, but many people now head to the web to figure out Black Friday deals.

If you only have a couple of stores you know you want to visit, then you might not particularly need any bookmarked websites or downloaded apps. But if you want to shop around different stores and see what a lot of them have to offer, check out some of these websites and apps.

Websites

  • BFAds.net—features online and scanned ads, the option to add things to your favorites, guides, forums, and more
  • BlackFriday.com—includes online and scanned ads, deal alerts, guides, and more
  • TheBlackFriday.com—has online and scanned ads, ad alerts, the option to create a shopping list, and more
  • Black Friday @ GottaDEAL—offers online and scanned ads, forums, a shopping list feature, deal alerts, and more

Apps

  • Black Friday 2017 Ads Shopping—available in the App Store and specifically designed to follow Black Friday deals
  • BlackFriday.com app—available through Google Play and in the app store; BlackFriday.com’s website in app form
  • DealNews app—available through Google Play and in the App Store; an app designed to help users find deals that is useful despite not being created specifically for Black Friday
  • Shopular—available through Google Play and in the App Store; another non-Black-Friday-specific shopping app that helps consumers find ads and promotions from stores

Now Facebook’s Ads Connect to Your Offline Shopping

Now Facebook’s Ads Connect to Your Offline Shopping

Facebook is in the news again, and like last time, it’s got to do with their targeted ads. As you may be aware of, Facebook has targeted ads that let advertisers direct their ads toward specific users based on things like their profile information (age, location, interests, etc.) and browser cookies (meaning your Facebook ads might be targeted to you based on websites you visited). There has previously been some wariness toward these targeted ads, particularly the ads that pop up based on previous web activity. But many people pay this advertising no mind and aren’t particularly worried about how these ads are being directed to them.

Now Facebook is upping their ad game. In a recent announcement, Facebook described how some businesses are now able to target their ads toward people who physically visit their brick and mortar stores. Businesses can do this because of Facebook’s ability to follow the location of a user that has location enabled in their app. Facebook’s announcement suggests that these ads might be used to target recent store visitors and suggest new merchandise or that it could be used to exclude store visitors if they’re running a promotion that’s exclusive to new buyers. Whatever the reason, though, some Facebook users are sure to find it unsettling seeing ads based on where they’ve recently been.

There are ways to avoid unwanted targeted ads. Though you can’t go into Facebook’s settings and completely turn off all ads, you can stop them from targeting you in the some of the ways mentioned above. You can stop targeted ads based on your website activity by visiting the Facebook Ads page. Where it says “Ads based on my use of websites and apps,” just click Edit and select Off from the dropdown box. You can also use a page linked from Facebook Ads to edit what information they use in their other targeted ads. Clicking Edit next to “Ads based on my preferences” displays a button that reads “Visit Ad Preferences.” On the page it takes you to, you can change which interests and pieces of personal information targeted ads are based on, among other things. This can be a bit time consuming, but it may be worth it if you’re interested in cutting back on your targeted ads.

Most importantly, if you don’t want the new aspect of Facebook’s targeted ads to affect you, make sure you don’t have location enabled in your Facebook app. In the app’s menu, navigate to “Account Settings” and tap on “Location.” Where it says “Location History,” press the button to switch it to “OFF.” After doing this, you can also go to your phone’s settings, go to your apps, choose the Facebook app, and change the app’s permissions to no longer allow it access to your location.

To be clear, these new targeted ads are very likely exciting to many people, and if you’re one of those people, that’s fantastic! But if you’re wary of ad targeting and access to your location, be sure to look carefully into your Facebook and phone settings.