While Chrome has had a rocky recent run, an ambitious rival has been quick to capitalize. But now Google has given potential defectors a great reason to stick with its browser. 

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Having attained internal Google documents TheWindowsClub, has revealed that Chrome is going to become dramatically more power efficient. And it looks set to result in hours of additional battery life for laptop and smartphone users. 

TheWindowsClub explains that Google will achieve this by throttling the use of non-essential Javascript tasks in background tabs. These tasks include things like reporting logs, ad interactions, monitoring scroll position and more and Google has discovered they are a major source of battery drain. In a test attained by TheWindowsClub, Google limited Javascript checks to once per minute and opened 36 tabs in the background. The result was a 28% boost to battery life resulting in another two hours of usage (graph below). 

In a second test, Google also found that even when running an intensive process in a foreground tab (in this case YouTube videos), limiting Javascript checks in background tabs still resulted in a 13% battery increase. Moreover, this isn’t something for the far flung future. TheWindowsClub found this feature is already available to test thanks to a hidden setting in Chrome Canary. Here’s how Chrome Canary users can enable it now:

  • Type chrome://flags in the search bar
  • Search for: Throttle Javascript timers in background
  • Set to: Enable immediately when a tab is hidden
  • Relaunch Chrome

While Chromium based browsers will receive the same functionality, the key for Google is to keep Chrome itself as lean as possible, given the rise of more privacy focused and ad hostile Chromium browsers like Brave and Vivaldi. 

Interestingly. Microsoft recently gave Chrome a helping hand here with its new ‘Segment Heap’ memory optimization software, introduced in the Windows 10 May 2020 update. Early tests show this could reduce Chrome’s infamous memory consumption by up to a third. In return, Google has piled the pressure on Windows by announcing its ambitious plan to run Windows programs (including Office) natively on Chrome OS

The browser wars are back. 

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