Google is going all-in on video with its latest Search feature, autoplaying 6-second silent snippets of videos that turn up in mobile search results. The addition will likely draw mixed reactions from the millions of people who use the platform on a daily basis.
Google’s pitch for forcing autoplaying videos is that it’ll make a person’s quest for answers a lot faster and easier. The company figures that it’s been using short text snippets to provide people with a preview of a site’s contents for years now, so the new video preview format is an extension of that.
To be fair, a still image thumbnail and title might not always be enough to tell someone what a video is about. Google posits that a user might search for the keyword ‘salsa’ with the intention of learning the dance or ‘flat tire’ to learn how to fix one, and the new video preview tool would help decide which video to watch in full.
This makes sense to a certain extent, especially when a person doesn’t have a lot of data to waste. Autoplaying videos themselves take up data and RAM though, with Google trying to get around this by allowing video previews only when there’s Wi-Fi around. This would defeat the purpose of googling a flat tire though, since the seeker could be on the road without any Wi-Fi around.
Google has a solution for this as well, since users can change their Google app or Chrome settings to keep video previews active even when they’re on mobile data. They can head to the same place if they want to opt out of the facility completely. Many will probably choose to do so.
Useful or not, autoplaying videos can be very annoying and disrupt a simple Google search where there’s no intention of watching a video. Previews are rolling out right now for the Android versions of the Google app and Chrome. Desktops and iOS will probably follow soon.