The change involves the way that when a user returns to a page, the browser will, where possible, use files stored in its cache from the previous visit to save reloading. However, before doing so it will check with the website that none of the content has changed – a process that’s much quicker than completely reloading everything, but still takes some time.
The problem, Google explains, is that this validation process is becoming increasingly inefficient. That’s partly because individual web pages tend to include more files hosted across more domains than in the past. Another hold-up is that more people are using mobile devices where latency is an issue: in other words every individual file check adds up to a longer delay, even though the amount of data being transferred is low.
The latest Chrome edition instead only validates the main resource on the page – for instance, the core HTML (or other format) file – to see if it’s changed. If it hasn’t, the browser will simply get everything available from the cache.
According to Google, data from Facebook shows that since the update, page reload times on Chrome have been cut by 28 percent. Google also says the changes should reduce data consumption and power use.
That’s not the only change to Chrome. The update now means that all Flash content is disabled by default and users have to actively click on it to activate it. There’s also a tweak to the color coding security warnings in the address bar. Until now the system was green for HTTPS sites and a neutral icon for those without HTTPS.
Those labels will continue but with an exception: sites that collect passwords or credit card details and don’t use HTTPS will carry an explicit “Not secure” warning. (Eventually Google plans to make that the default label for all non-HTTPs site.)
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