Search giant Google has updated its Chrome Web browser with a number of new features aimed at making the browsing experience feel faster, especially on laptops and other less powerful devices. The new version, Chrome 45, is also designed to take it easier on the batteries of those devices, addressing a shortcoming often attributed to previous versions of the browser, according to Google.
Speed is one of Chrome’s "founding principles," Ryan Schoen, a Google product manager and performance promoter, said yesterday in a blog post. However, that claim might not be supported by many users. The Chrome browser has a reputation as a notorious resource hog, taxing device memories and offering lagging performance.
Trimming Resource Use
Google is aiming to change that perception by improving on the browser’s memory usage and power consumption. Chrome can now analyze running Web pages to figure out when they’re idle or not performing many tasks. From there, it takes the freed processor time to clean up old memory and filter out junk.
That process can free up 10 percent of the amount of memory being used, compared with Chrome 43, according to Google. Some Web sites benefit from this feature more than others -- Google's Gmail Web app uses 25 percent less memory in Chrome 45.
Making the newly lean and mean Chrome meant altering some popular features, such as the browser’s ability to re-open all tabs from the most recent session at start up -- a feature that can cause slowdowns as all the pages reload.
Google said it is making that feature more intelligent by having tabs restore in order from most recently viewed to least recently viewed. The tab the user was in when Chrome closed always reloads first, and the reloading of all previously open tabs comes to a halt if the process starts to consume too much CPU power. In that case, the user is given the option of re-opening the remaining tabs manually.
The refinement to reloading seems to have taken a cue from a Chrome extension introduced in May. After a certain user-specified time, The Great Suspender automatically suspends unused tabs until the user clicks on them again.
And as Google announced in June, Chrome 45 also has a default setting that pauses unwatched Flash-based content. Under that setting, which had previously been manually enabled, Flash media on Web sites is frozen unless it is detected as being the main content being viewed.
"As the Web evolves and sites take advantage of increasing capabilities, Chrome's performance -- how fast pages load, how smooth scrolling is, how much memory is consumed, and how long your battery lasts -- becomes even more important," Schoen said in his blog post. "This latest version of Chrome includes the most recent wave of performance updates, but there's much more in the works for upcoming versions of Chrome."