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This article was published on February 14, 2017

Major Facebook video update brings autoplay sound, picture-in-picture, and more

Facebook is announcing out a series of major updates to video on the social network today. Some of them welcome, others not so much.

First the bad: Facebook will now begin to autoplay sound on videos, so prepare for a cacophony of noises as you simply try to catch up with your friends’ lives.

In Facebook’s defense, it says it’s heard positive feedback from after testing it out for a while (since August, at least), and it will be rolled out “slowly.” Audio will fade in and out as you scroll past the videos on your feed, so at least you shouldn’t be caught off guard with the jarring screams of some prank video your friend shared. Sound will also not play if your phone is in silent mode.

More importantly, you can disable the feature by turning off “Videos in News Feed Start With Sound” in your app Settings. Facebook will also be providing “in-product messages to tell people about the new sound on experience and controls.”

The other changes are less controversial. Vertical video will now take up a much larger portion of your display on Android and iOS devices, following positive feedback from trials.

You’ll also now be able to activate a picture-in-picture mode to minimize a video window and continue scrolling through your News Feed while keeping an eye on whatever recipe video caught your attention.

The videos are much like Facebook’s chat heads – you can toss them around onto any corner of the app. It’s even better if you’re an Android user: you can keep on watching video even after you exit the Facebook app. Google’s own YouTube app doesn’t even let you do that.

Lastly, Facebook announced it will soon introduce a video app for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV. Other platforms are to follow.

The app allows you watch videos shared by your friends or pages you follow, as well some of the most popular live videos from around the world and other content tailored to your interests. You can also watch all those videos you’ve saved to watch for later, or revisit the videos you’ve already watched or shared.


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