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Google’s new Brotli algorithm is about to supercharge Web browsing

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Google Chrome may be one of the fastest browsers around, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Luckily, the team behind the venerable Internet browser hasn’t been sitting idle. Starting in the very near future, Chrome’s getting Brotli (“small bread” in Swiss German), a new page compression algorithm that decreases load times.

Brotli, which was revealed in September as a replacement for Chrome’s outgoing Zopfli algorithm, uses a more efficient data format to improve the compression of scripts by up to 26 percent. That should mean faster website rendering and better space utilization in most case, Google says, but the potential applications extend beyond mere page content. Compression engineer Zoltan Szabadka sees Brotli being used in image optimization and website pre-fetching on unreliable connections, and perhaps even font compression in scenarios where high-resolution typography isn’t a necessity (e.g., smartphones and other small-screen devices). Subsequently, Google expects all users (but especially those on mobile) to see “lower data transfer fees and reduced battery use.”

Brotli’s but part of Google’s multi-pronged approach to speeding up the Web. Data Saver, a Chrome extension which the company released on Android in December and on PCs in March, reduces bandwidth usage by using Google intermediary servers to optimize Web pages. The company’s in-development BoringSSL is a streamlined, lightweight alternative to cryptology library OpenSSL. And since 2013, Google’s been working to replace Chrome’s underlying WebKit rendering engine with its speedier, more efficient Blink codebase.

Thankfully, Google’s not keeping its compression breakthroughs close to the chest: Brotli’s free for any development team to implement. It’s already coming to Firefox, Google says, and is “under consideration” by Microsoft’s Edge team. You’ll have to wait a few weeks to give it a whirl and it’ll only work on HTTPS connections initially, but rest soundly with the knowledge that your Web browsing is about to get turbocharged.

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