Google Chrome (download for iOS or Android) is the world's most popular web browser by a comfortable margin, and it didn't get there through branding, marketing or strong-arming. Chrome reached this point in part because it's had a reputation for being fast from the very beginning. Getting pre-installed on billions of Android phones probably didn't hurt either, but the browser's ascendance began before Android had substantial market share.
That said, Chrome's deft touch doesn't come easy, and its rival Mozilla Firefox (download for iOS or Android) has made great strides in the last couple years with performance and stability (while most other competitors have quietly started using the same Chromium programming code on which Google builds its browser). In order to maintain its edge, Google must continue to figure out new ways to keep Chrome speedy.
Today, TechSpot discovered an interesting update from Chrome's developers about a new plan to boost load times for web pages that you've recently viewed. As with pretty much every decent browser out there, Chrome stores previously downloaded images, text and other page elements to make reloads faster. The new plan would incorporate more page data into this content cache, the potential performance increase could be very noticeable.
Google engineering manager Addy Osmani says in the update that this caching improvement "could improve performance up to 19% of all navigations for mobile Chrome" (emphasis original). But lest you think that this will be mobile-only, the update includes a short YouTube video of a prototype working on the desktop version of Chrome.
So presumably, this page loading boost will come to Windows, MacOS, Chrome OS and Linux as well, and the team simply isn't far along enough on that effort to be able to estimate how much of a change we can expect to see.
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As for the iOS version of Chrome, Asmandi says, "Chrome is opting not to use WebKit's implementation of bfcache due to incompatibility with Chrome's multiprocess architecture." Since Apple mandates that all browsers on iOS use its WebKit browser engine under the hood, ostensibly for security reasons, it sounds like the Chrome team will need to get particularly creative if they want to extend this effort to iPhones and iPads.
On the other hand, WebKit is no slouch, so the potential absence of a caching improvement in the iOS version of Chrome isn't necessarily a big issue. We'll still be watching this story to see how it all plays out.
- The Google Chrome development team is experimenting with a caching technique that would allow recently viewed web pages to be reloaded much faster than before.
- The team has a YouTube video demonstrating the speed increase, but it's currently in the prototype phase, so it's too early to say when this update will be available to the general public.
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