Latest Chrome Beta for Android reduces data usage by half

March 5, 2013
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Chrome Beta for Android

The last time we reported about Chrome Beta for Android we were excited to show how Google’s popular browser can be modified to render pages in full-screen mode. This time, users with heavy mobile data usage are in for a treat: Chrome 26 Beta adds a new experimental feature that makes use of Google’s proxy servers to optimize web content, thereby saving bandwidth.

The reduction in data usage is made possible by Google’s utilization of its own proxy servers, which phones running Chrome mobile establish a connection with and transmit HTTP requests. The proxy servers then pass on the request to the target resource, performs content optimization, and finally sends back a lighter load to the phones.

Being in an experimental state, the data compression feature is disabled by default. Users who want to try it may do so by visiting chrome://flags and choosing Enable Data Compression Proxy.  In-house testing by Google has shown that the compression can conserve as much as 50% of data as well as boost loading times when browsing the Internet on a mobile connection. Users can check the bandwidth savings themselves by going to chrome://net-internals and then clicking on Bandwidth.

Chrome data compression

The optimization is only applicable for normal connections. Secured ones provided by HTTPS and navigating through Incognito browsing sidestep the optimization proxy. On the other hand, a Google account is not necessary to access the feature.

Made available shortly after the stable version of Chrome 25 for Android has been released, Chrome 26 beta (26.0.1410.26) can be downloaded at the Play Store. Besides the data compression feature, the update also comes with a couple of fixes and improvements, such as synchronizations for passwords and autofill. According to the Chrome Releases blog, the password sync won’t be ready until after a few days and will only work with Chrome 26 or higher.

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