If it works as promised, scroll anchoring could make it significantly easier to read and navigate web pages on your phone.
Everyone hates page jumps. Even if you’re not exactly sure what they are, you’ve definitely encountered them, and they routinely ruin your browsing experience. It happens when you load a website, and as content trickles onto the screen, your browser is forced to haphazardly shunt your view of the page to shoehorn it in.
It’s infuriating, prevents you from reading, results in far too many unintentional clicks on ads, and — when it’s really aggressive — can make a site absolutely unusable. And it’s particularly damaging to the mobile browsing experience, where screen space comes at a premium and jumps can happen more frequently, because only a small part of the page is visible at any given time.
Enter one of the least-hyped but potentially most important updates Google has ever brought to Chrome on Android: Scroll anchoring. The feature has been tested in the beta version since last year and will debut in full with Chrome’s next release.
Google says with scroll anchoring, pages load with an average of almost three fewer jumps — and the development team is still improving that number. The name comes from the technique, as the browser’s scroll position is literally anchored to an on-screen element while content flows in.
There are a couple small caveats. The feature can’t be put to use on overly complex websites, and it is disabled when forward/back navigation buttons are used, so that the view is preserved from the previous time you looked at the page. Even so, this is a massively useful addition, whether most users are aware of what it means or not.
Not every single destination on the internet will benefit from scroll anchoring — but for the ones that do, it’ll make the internet just a little less of a headache-inducing place.