Facebook announced today a new feature for video that could be a boon for advertisers but is likely to be met with some trepidation from users. Now, videos within the News Feed, which formerly autoplayed in silence, will begin to autoplay with the sound on. “As people watch more video on phones,” the company wrote in a blog post, “they’ve come to expect sound when the volume on their device is turned on.”
Facebook says it has received positive feedback from initial tests, and will roll out the change — which causes sound to fade in and out on videos as users scroll through their feeds — in coming months. However, if a phone is set to silent, then videos will not play with the volume turned on, Facebook noted — and users will also have the option to disable the new feature in Settings.
Additionally, Facebook said it will now use a larger preview format for vertical videos within the News Feed for a better viewing experience on both iOS and Android devices. And it has added a picture-in-picture feature that enables mobile users to watch videos and simultaneously scroll through other content within News Feeds. In iOS and Android, users can now drag a video to the corner of the screen and continue browsing. Android users can even continue listening to videos when they exit the Facebook app.
Here’s a video of some of the new features in action:
Finally, as had previously been reported, Facebook confirmed that it is launching a smart TV app that it says will be available for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Samsung Smart TV. The video-centric app will showcase “videos shared by friends or Pages you follow, top live videos from around the world, and recommended videos based on your interests,” Facebook says. Users will also be able to save videos for later viewing.
A connected TV app would presumably dovetail nicely with original programming endeavors that Facebook reportedly has in the works. The company hired former MTV exec Mina Lefevre, for instance, to help head of global creative strategy Ricky Van Veen develop original content. And Facebook has also started to emphasize longer content in recent weeks via algorithm adjustments as well as new ad formats. Facebook is also reportedly seeking to license popular music videos.