Facebook has updated its iOS app with a new "feature" that auto-plays videos in a user's News Feed. With the just-released Facebook version 6.8 for iOS, any time a user scrolls through their News Feed and comes upon a video, it will auto-play instead of only playing when the user has tapped on it. The auto-play feature works on both friends' videos and video ads.
The new feature is something that could easily annoy many users. However, Facebook was smart enough to mute audio in the auto-playing videos by default. In order to hear the audio the user must still tap on the playing video. It also makes it more likely that people might actually stop and watch that video clip of your dancing dog instead of scrolling right past it.
The auto-playing feature comes at a time when other social networks are seeing a lot of people upload video clips to share with their friends (or the world, in the case of Twitter's Vine) and this move by Facebook is in no doubt part of a plan to engage more users with videos on their site. It also opens the door for auto-playing video ads, however.
For those worried about using up their precious cellular data, Facebook was nice enough to add an "Auto-play on WiFi only" setting in the Settings app in iOS. This way, videos in your News Feed won't auto-play while you are on 3G or 4G.