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Chrome 57 Reduces Desktop Power Consumption By Throttling Background Tabs

Version 57 of the desktop Chrome web browser includes a new CPU throttling feature that Google says will lead to 25 percent fewer busy background tabs and help reduce overall power consumption. Charges that Chrome is a battery hog have long dogged Google's browser, leading the company to make efficient power usage a key pillar in its long-term development strategy for the software. Throttling background tabs by limiting Javascript timers is the latest attempt by Google to improve the browser's reputation. Javascript timers are often used by news sites and social media networks to update web page content in tabs, which uses up valuable CPU cycles. From version 57 of the browser, Chrome will delay timers in individual background tabs if their power usage oversteps the mark. Tabs that play audio or use real-time connections won't be affected, however. Chrome has focused on improving the user experience by throttling tab performance for many years. Like many browsers, Chrome has limited timers in the background to only run once per second. Via the new throttling policy, Chrome 57 will delay timers to limit average CPU load to 1% of a core if an application uses too much CPU in background. Tabs playing audio or maintaining real-time connections like WebSockets or WebRTC won’t be affected. According to Google, the new throttling mechanism leads to fewer busy background tabs, which typically consume a third of Chrome's power usage on desktop computers. In the long term, Google aims to fully suspend timers in background tabs and instead rely on new APIs to do the work

Latest Chrome Canary Build Includes Support for MacBook Pro Touch Bar

The newest build (58.0.3020.0) of Chrome Canary, Google's experimental browser, includes support for the Touch Bar built into the 2016 MacBook Pro, indicating Touch Bar support will soon be added to the Chrome browser. On the Touch Bar, the current Chrome Canary build offers a search/URL bar, forward and back buttons, a refresh/stop option, a button for opening a new tab, and a button for adding a new bookmark. It's much a simpler implementation than Touch Bar support in Safari, which includes preview tabs for quickly switching between windows. There are also no controls available for video or music playback in the browser. Features are tested in Canary before being added release builds of the Google Chrome browser, so Touch Bar support is expected in Chrome 58, set to be released during the week of April 25th. Those who want to give Touch Bar support a try ahead of the release of Chrome 58 can download Chrome Canary from Google.

Google Makes Chrome Browser for iOS Open Source

Google today announced that the code for Chrome for iOS is being added to its Chromium project and will be available through the company's open-source repository going forward. According to Google, Chrome for iOS was previously kept separate from the rest of the Chromium project because of the "additional complexity" required for the platform, such as the need for the browser to be built using the WebKit rendering engine. Google says the company's engineers have spent "a lot of time" over the last few years tweaking the Chrome for iOS code needed to upstream into Chromium, a process that was recently completed.Today, that upstreaming is complete, and developers can compile the iOS version of Chromium like they can for other versions of Chromium. Development speed is also faster now that all of the tests for Chrome for iOS are available to the entire Chromium community and automatically run any time that code is checked in.Designed as an alternative to Safari, Chrome for iOS is available for free to all users from the iOS App Store. [Direct Link] Chrome users won't notice any obvious changes to the browser, but the shift to open source will make it easier for Google to release new versions of Chrome for

Chrome 56 Offers Faster Reloads, Better Security, Lower Power Usage, and More

Version 56 of Google Chrome browser started rolling out to Macs today, bringing with it several new security enhancements, lower power consumption, and a performance boost. To begin with, Chrome now presents a clearer warning to users when a website requests password or credit card information over a non-HTTPS, unsecure connection. Chrome 56 is also the first version to make HTML5 the default standard for all users, with Flash content automatically blocked by the browser. Support for the HTTPS-secure Web Bluetooth API has also been included, allowing websites to connect to Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices like printers and lightbulbs for a more interactive online experience. Chrome 56 also brings 51 additional security fixes to the browser. According to a Google blog post, in the latest version of Chrome, changes to page reload behavior now produce reloads that are 28 percent faster and result in 60 percent less validation requests. The new behavior is said to maximize the reuse of cached resources which results in lower latency, power consumption, and data usage. In addition, Chrome 56 brings built-in FLAC support for the first time, meaning users of the (non-iTunes compatible) audio format can listen to tracks from within the browser. Lastly, in an attempt to deal with resource hogging Chrome tabs, Google has introduced a new Browser Timer feature that automatically throttles background pages overstepping their allotted runtime allowance, provided they aren't playing media. Chrome 56 is available to download for Mac users now. Existing users can

Google Chrome Browser 55 Fixes Security Holes and Defaults to HTML5

Google this week began rolling out the latest update to its desktop Chrome web browser ahead of schedule, with Chrome 55 fixing multiple security vulnerabilities and defaulting to HTML5 on the majority of websites. Google Chrome has been phasing out Flash support since September, when version 53 of the browser started blocking Flash-based page analytics and background elements. Version 54 brought a YouTube code rewrite that forced YouTube Flash players to switch to HTML5. Chrome 55 brings the most visible move away from Flash by defaulting to HTML5 across the board. Users are now prompted to enable Flash when they visit sites that still use it, exempting 10 of the most popular sites on the web, including Facebook and Amazon. Chrome 55.0.2883.75 for Mac contains a number of other fixes and improvements, including 26 patches identified by external researchers as part of Google's bug bounty program, and another 10 security fixes implemented by Google itself. The addition of CSS automatic hyphenation means Chrome can now hyphenate words when line-wrapping, which improves the visual appearance of text blocks. Chrome 55 should be available to download for most Mac users now. Existing users can update by selecting Chrome -> Preferences via the menu bar and clicking the About section. Users downloading Chrome for the first time will automatically receive the updated version from the Chrome download page. An update for the iOS browser app is expected soon.

Google Chrome 55 Will Have Memory-Optimization Features for Faster Browsing

Google has announced that an update coming to its website browser, Chrome, will include an upgraded JavaScript engine to aid in reducing the memory usage on websites that were programmed using JavaScript (via CNET). Planned for launch on December 6, Chrome 55 will see performance improvements predominantly if a device doesn't have much memory to start with (such as low-cost smartphones), and if a user runs Chrome with multiple tabs or other apps open at the same time. Google's V8 JavaScript engine team said it has "significantly reduced the memory footprint of several websites," helping to improve performance on the browser. These websites include The New York Times, Reddit, YouTube, and others, and were all picked to gauge Chrome's specific enhanced performance features. The team discovered that Chrome used a total of 50 percent less of a device's RAM on average in comparison to Chrome 53, which updated in September to emphasize HTML5 content over Adobe Flash. Most noticeably, the average V8 heap memory consumption of the mobile New York Times benchmark reduced by about 66%. Overall, we observed a 50% reduction of average V8 heap size on this set of benchmarks. Another optimization introduced recently not only reduces memory on low-memory devices but beefier mobile and desktop machines. Reducing the V8 heap page size from 1M to 512KB results in a smaller memory footprint when not many live objects are present and lower overall memory fragmentation up to 2x. It also allows V8 to perform more compaction work since smaller work chunks allow more work to be done

Google Chrome 53 Browser to Block Flash Content By Default

Google announced yesterday that it will "de-emphasize" Adobe Flash in its Chrome browser in favor of HTML5 from next month. As of Chrome 53, whenever the web browser comes across a site that loads Flash "behind the scenes" it will block the offending content and switch to the faster HTML5 web standard whenever it is available. Google notified users of the change to its browser's behavior ahead of time in a blog post: Today, more than 90% of Flash on the web loads behind the scenes to support things like page analytics. This kind of Flash slows you down, and starting this September, Chrome 53 will begin to block it. HTML5 is much lighter and faster, and publishers are switching over to speed up page loading and save you more battery life. You'll see an improvement in responsiveness and efficiency for many sites.In December, Chrome 55 will make HTML5 the default experience, except for sites which only support Flash, in which case users will be prompted to enable it on initial visit. The move is another nail in the coffin for Adobe's web standard, which used to serve the majority of online media content before former Apple CEO Steve Jobs decided not to support it on the iPhone. In Safari 10, set to ship with macOS Sierra, Apple plans to disable Flash by default, along with Java, Silverlight, and QuickTime, in an effort to focus on HTML5 content and improve the overall web browsing experience. The plug-in has long been problematic for Apple, requiring frequent security fixes and forced updates to patch a stream of vulnerabilities. Chrome can be

Google Testing Support for Native OS X Notifications in Chrome

Google's Chrome browser has long supported push notifications, but it's always used its own notification center instead of relying on the OS X Notification Center that was built into Apple's operating system in 2012. That may change in the near future, as Google is experimenting with the built-in OS X Notification Center. Available to all Chrome users as an experimental feature, OS X notifications can be turned on in the current version of the Chrome browser by inserting "chrome://flags/#enable-native-notifications" in the address bar and choosing the "enable" option. It should be noted that a more current version of the feature is available through Chrome Canary, as the implementation on the release browser is 6-12 weeks behind the current state of development. Native OS X notifications are more visually attractive than standard Chrome notifications and they're also listed in the Notification Center window, something that wasn't possible with Chrome notifications. OS X notifications coming from Chrome will also obey Do Not Disturb settings. As The Next Web points out, the Notification Center feature is still in active development so users who choose to turn it on could run into some bugs. Google developers say work on OS X Notification Center integration is being actively pursued, but it is not "100% clear either way" whether support will become official as "certain roadblocks" could potentially prevent that from

Google Removes 'OK Google' Search Activation in Latest Chrome Update

Earlier this week, Google released Chrome 46 with a long list of bug fixes and feature improvements to improve memory and power usage, but unmentioned was the removal of "OK Google" voice-based search activation. As noted by VentureBeat, it's no longer possible to use the "OK Google" phrase to trigger a voice search, which has been a feature built into the Chrome browser since May of 2014. "OK Google" was removed from the Chrome browser on Windows, Mac, and Linux, but is still available on Chrome for mobile devices and Chromebooks. Image via VentureBeat Google removed the feature because it wasn't heavily used, and its deletion should help save power and speed up browsing as the Chrome browser will no longer need to continually listen for voice commands. "OK Google" search activation is just one of the lesser-used features that Google removed this week. Also being nixed is the notification center, which Google says "few users" visited on a regular basis. It will be removed with the next iteration of

Google Improving Chrome for OS X Performance to Better Rival Safari

Google senior software engineer Peter Kasting this week announced that his team has been working to address Chrome for OS X battery hog complaints by improving the performance of the browser on Mac, especially in areas where Safari appears to do better (via iPhoneHacks). Chrome for OS X has received multiple under the hood improvements that should result in faster performance and longer battery life while browsing. The browser, for example, now requires significantly less CPU usage when loading the Google search results page and various other websites. The other technical changes to Chrome for OS X are outlined as follows:"The team has been working on addressing this; here are some cases that have recently been improved on trunk: http://crbug.com/460102 Before: Renderers for background tabs had the same priority as for foreground tabs. Now: Renderers for background tabs get a lower priority, reducing idle wakeups on various perf test, in some cases by significant amounts (e.g. 50% on one test). http://crbug.com/485371 Before: On a Google search results page, using Safari's user agent to get the same content that Safari would, Chrome incurs ~390 wakes over 30s and 0.3% CPU usage vs. Safari’s 120 wakes over 30s and 0.1% CPU usage. Now: 66% reduction in both timer firings and CPU use. Chrome is now incurring ~120 wakes over 30s and 0.1% CPU use, on par with Safari. http://crbug.com/489936 Before: On capitalone.com, Chromium incurs ~1010 wakeups over 30s vs. Safari's ~490 wakes. Now: ~30% reduction in timer firings. Chrome is now incurring ~721

Google Will Soon Limit Mac Chrome Extensions to Web Store to Curb Malware

Google has announced that it will be extending its policy that requires Chrome extensions to be hosted on the Chrome Web Store to all Mac users beginning in July 2015. Google says it is extending the policy, originally announced in May 2014, to protect users against unsafe Chrome extensions by malicious software developers."We originally did not enforce this policy on the Windows developer channel in order to allow developers to opt out," writes Google. "Unfortunately, we’ve since observed malicious software forcing users into the developer channel in order to install unwanted off-store extensions. Affected users are left with malicious extensions running on a Chrome channel they did not choose. As such, starting today we will begin enforcing this policy on all Windows channels. Mac will soon follow, with enforcement for all channels beginning in July 2015."Google says it saw a 75% drop in customer support help requests from Chrome users inquiring about how to uninstall unwanted extensions since enforcing the policy for some Windows users. The company will continue to support local extension installs during development and installs via Enterprise policy. Developers with third-party extensions not currently on the Chrome Web Store can submit them for approval

Google Launches Chrome Remote Desktop App for iOS

Google today launched a Chrome Remote Desktop app for iOS, which allows Chrome users to access their Mac or PC desktop computers remotely using an iOS device. Google has had an Android version of the Chrome Remote Desktop app for several months and has finally brought the tool to iOS. To access a PC or Mac remotely with the new app, users will first need to install the Chrome Remote Desktop on their computer, which is a free download from the Chrome Web Store. With both the desktop browser app and the iOS app, it’s possible for users to access their computers on an iOS device through the Chrome browser with a few simple taps after verifying through a generated code. Securely access your computers from your iOS device. - On each of your computers, set up remote access using the Chrome Remote Desktop app from Chrome Web Store. - On your iOS device, open the app and tap on any of your online computers to connect.In addition to allowing access from an iOS device with the new app, Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop feature also allows computer-to-computer access, which Google suggests is useful for securely accessing files on one machine from another or giving a friend temporary access to help solve a computer problem. The Chrome Remote Desktop app can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link