As mobile phone users become more and more frustrated with bloated content on their devices, Google thinks it has the solution. The company said it has enhanced its technology to reduce data consumption on mobile devices by up to 70 percent with the Data Saver feature in the Chrome for Android browser.
Earlier this year, Google debuted an optional data compression feature in its Chrome mobile browser that let users reduce their data usage by up to half.
"Accessing mobile Web sites on a slow connection can be frustrating: It can eat up your data, and it takes work to keep track of your usage," Tal Oppenheimer, a Google product manager, wrote in a blog post yesterday.
Fewer Images, Rich Content
The Data Saver mode removes most images when Web pages are loading if it finds that the users are on slower connections, according to Google. After the pages load, the users can tap their screens to display all the images or just those they want to see.
For instance, with Web content such as news stories, users won’t find it necessary to load images, only the text of the stories. The idea is to give users more control over which items their devices download, and thus how much data gets used.
The Data Saver feature was brought out in beta in March 2013 as part of the beta version of Chrome for Android before being introduced to iOS devices that fall. Data Saver mimics a proxy server by routing Web requests through Google’s servers.
At that point, the company’s PageSpeed libraries compress and optimize Web content, and the connection between the browser and Google’s servers is handled by the SPDY protocol for additional efficiency. SPDY is an open networking protocol developed primarily at Google for transporting Web content. The result is that Web surfing is speedier than normal on slow connections because it can bypass extraneous code, ads and rich media, according to Google.
Google’s data compression feature is being made available to Chrome users in developing regions still encountering slower speeds due to fewer broadband connections. Indonesia, one of the markets where Data Saver is being rolled out, was also the first country where Google began testing default mobile-optimized Web pages.
More countries will get the new compression feature in the coming months, but Google didn’t specify an exact date. Google also didn’t disclose when the feature would be available in the iOS version of the Chrome browser.
Other companies have devised ways for mobile users to deal with data bloat. For its iOS 9 operating system, Apple introduced support for content blockers that allow users of the Safari browser to block ads and other bulky content. Xiaomi and browser maker Opera teamed up on a data compression technology, and Opera’s data saver for Android, Opera Max, was recently updated.
Google has been working on a broad-based effort to accelerate mobile Web connections with publishers, analytics firms and ad companies called the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project.