Chrome may soon be a lot less terrible when running on a Mac. At the very least, Google is doing its best to ensure that its popular Web browser will no longer be such an energy hog.
The company said in a post on Google Plus that it was aware of user complaints about the browser’s tendency to wear down laptop batteries on the Mac, and that it was working to address the problem.
Peter Kasting, Google's Senior Software Engineer for its Chrome user interface team said on his profile that Google had already made some improvements to the browser and would continue to improve it. “The Chrome team has no intention of sitting idly by (pun intended) when our users are suffering,” Kasting said. “You should expect us to continually improve in this area.”
Catching Up to Safari
Kasting acknowledged that Safari, the proprietary browser developed by Apple that comes pre-installed on Macs, performs better than Chrome when it comes to energy use.
To close the gap between the two, Kasting said the Chrome team is making changes to the browser’s code base, including the way it renders tabs that are open in the background but which the user is not actively using. From now on, renderers for background tabs will receive lower priority than renderers for active tabs.
Google is also making several other improvements to Chrome’s code, most with the goal of reducing the number of wakeups, or instances when the CPU switches from a sleep state to an active state, to minimize the browser’s power draw. Currently, Chrome can have dozens of times as many wakeups as Safari.
In addition to improving Chrome’s power draw, the company said it would also be working to improve RAM use. The changes will be coming to Chrome’s beta channel in the next month or so, and should be available for general release soon after that. In a response to a comment on his post, Kasting said that the changes would likely be released via a stable upgrade within 12 weeks.
Multiple Power Upgrades
Google seems to be feeling the heat when it comes to Chrome’s reputation as a battery killer. At the very least, it seems intent to make up some of the distance between Chrome and Safari. Last week’s announcement is the second improvement to the browser the company has made this month. Previously, it had announced an upgrade that changed the way the Adobe Flash plugin works.
Previously, the plugin automatically launched any Flash content it found on a Web page, including ads running power-hungry animations. Following the change, Chrome now runs Flash content only selectively, pausing content instead of running it.
Although it is a small change to the way the browser behaves, it is one that could potentially have a substantial impact on the resources it uses. Like the most recent announcement, Google described that move as an effort to improve battery life.
Image credit: Google/Chrome; iStock/Artist's concept.
Posted: 2015-07-18 @ 6:50am PT
I guess I am surprised it has taken Google so long to address this issue. Most Google employees use Macs and I am pretty sure they use Chrome. So you know they have also faced the same problems.