The next time a video shows up at the top of your Google search results, it might start playing automatically — fortunately, with the sound muted.
Google is beginning to add what it calls “video previews” to search results. They’ll start out on Android, where they’ll appear for searches made in Chrome and the Google app. At first, they’ll only be in English and in the US, but Google plans to expand the feature globally and in all languages in the future. A spokesperson says Google also hopes to expand video previews to other platforms, so presumably iOS and perhaps the desktop are coming.
The feature is being positioned as a way to enhance video results, by giving viewers a better sense of what’s inside of each clip. That way, they don’t just have to rely on its name and still.
That said, it also sounds like autoplaying videos could prove distracting and clutter up Google’s famously bare-bones search results page. Google started testing something similar on the desktop the other week, and I definitely found it a little annoying. That desktop experiment has now ended, even though mobile previews are now going live.
Video previews will of course work for YouTube videos, and Google tells us a “wide variety” of other providers are supported as well. It didn’t specifically say which other services, though their support (or lack thereof) won’t impact search rank.
The previews will only show up when you’re browsing on Wi-Fi, so that the feature won’t use up your data. You’ll also have the option to turn it off inside the Google app.