New features headed to Chrome for Android promise to supercharge mobile browsing

webvr chrome android desktop google
The web is great for myriad tasks. You can stay abreast of friends’ shenanigans, watch funny cat videos, or check your latest bank statement — and that’s just scratching the surface. But it’s difficult to do anything of those things if you’re stuck with an unreliable cellular or Wi-Fi connection, and that’s why Google is doing the best it can to mitigate such circumstances. At a press conference in Delhi, India, on Tuesday, it announced a new version of Chrome for Android with features focused on connectivity.

“We want to make Chrome a better place for all our users to enjoy the mobile web,” said Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, Chrome’s vice president of product and data minimalist. “Chrome’s new features on Data Saver, downloads, and content discovery were designed to help you do more on the web, no matter what phone or network you may have.”

First up: an enhanced Data Saver. The mode, which debuted on Chrome last year, speeds up web browsing by compressing the content of web pages via dedicated Google servers. Images are converted to the highly efficient WebP format, and text is rendered at a lower fidelity.

The new and improved Data Saver is more versatile. It can compress video, and quite efficiently: A typical MP4 file with Data Saver enabled takes up to 67 percent less data. And Web Light, a feature which intelligently strips pages of unnecessary images and background elements, has been folded into Data Saver after launching in Indonesia last year. The improvements together result in page loading times up to two times faster than average and a reduction in data usage of up to 90 percent, Google said.

The improvements aren’t all technical.

Offline Downloads, a feature that made an appearance in the developer edition of Chrome in early September, lets users download images, videos, and web pages for offline viewing in a designated Downloads section within the Chrome menu. Downloads pause if the internet connection is interrupted and automatically resume when a new connection’s established.


The “new tab” experience in Chrome is changing. Currently, opening a new tab surfaces suggestions for websites to visit — an interface that will soon be supplanted with a personalized list of pages, articles, and “the latest buzz from the web.” Suggestions will improve over time, Google said, based on preferences like sports team and favorite websites.

The improved Data Saver is live on all versions of Chrome, Google said. Offline Downloads and the revamped “new tabs” screen are coming a bit later — they’ll launch on the beta version of Chrome before hitting the stable channel.

The Chrome announcements were a part of a Google event in India focused on connectivity. The others were YouTube Go, a slimmed-down YouTube client optimized for unstable internet connections; Google Station, a platform that allows partners to deploy and monetize public Wi-Fi hot spots; and an updated Google Play client with improved download speeds.


Most are debuting in India first, a strategy Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained in an op-ed piece in The Economic Times. “[We] learned the issues Indians may have with connectivity, and data constraints can be universal,” he wrote. “We dreamed up Maps Offline for India, but people in the United States and Europe are finding it just as useful. Simply put, solving for India is inspiring new Google innovations.”


Google’s updated Santa Tracker entertains and teaches coding throughout December

Google's Santa Tracker is in its fifteenth year and is back again with even more features. You can have fun with more than 20 games, learn about different holiday traditions around the world, and enjoy some festive animations.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.

Will Chrome remain our favorite web browser with the arrival of newest version?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.

Miss AIM? These are the best desktop chat clients to use today

Desktop chat clients are far from dead. In fact, they're currently enjoying something of a renaissance. So, which one should you be using? We take a peek at the best chat clients for teams, gamers and mainstream web surfers.

The best weather apps for the iPhone

Don't rely solely on your local meteorologist to stay up to date on the weather. Take matters into your own hands with one of these weather apps, each of which brings something unique to the table.

The $200 TicWatch C2 smartwatch is now being sold in the U.S. and U.K.

Digital well-being and disconnecting from your phone is one of 2018's big trends. Mobvoi wants you to think about its TicWatch C2 smartwatch as a great way to help you use your phone less.

The Palm has been revived, and is now available in the U.S. and U.K.

A reboot of the classic Palm is finally here and it's tiny. It syncs to your phone and acts as a secondary device -- with a feature to help you disconnect from technology. The Palm will be available exclusively through Verizon for $350.

Yes, we really are getting a special McLaren edition of the OnePlus 6T

OnePlus has announced a partnership with McLaren F1, emphasizing a shared interest in speed. The phone company is known for producing special edition devices. Here's what we know about the OnePlus 6T Mclaren Edition.

Simplify your life with one of these wireless smartphone charger deals

Banish nightly cable fumbling with a wireless smartphone charger. If your smartphone is compatible with wireless charging, the simplicity of placing it on a pad is a beautiful thing. Wireless chargers are also excellent gifts for coworkers.

Microsoft Outlook for iOS gets big redesign, with Dark Mode coming soon

Microsoft has deployed a huge redesign for its Outlook for iOS app, which includes new blue branding and some quality-of-life improvements. Dark Mode isn't included, but it's coming soon.

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.

Vanquish lag for good with the best routers for gaming

Finding the best routers for gaming is no easy task. With so many out there, how do you know which to pick? We've looked at the many options available and put together a list of our lag-free favorites.