Rolling out now to Mac, Windows, and Linux, Chrome 56 features a new page reload behavior that is better tuned for how the modern web works. Google notes 28% faster reloads across all platforms and more efficient resource use all around.

Reload has been a staple functionality of web browsers from the very beginning. However, the original behavior has remained the same even though connectivity and content consumption patterns have changed. As such, this results in numerous modern day inefficiencies:

When reloading a page, browsers will check with the web server if cached resources are still usable, a process known as validation. This typically results in hundreds of network requests per page issued to dozens of domains. On mobile devices, the high latency and transient nature of mobile connections mean that this behavior can produce serious performance issues.

The old reload behavior was meant to update content and fix broken pages. However, the latter issue is no longer a concern due to the increase in web page quality. Meanwhile, refreshing has always been an inefficient solution to the problem of out-of-date content.

To address this, Chrome 56 now features a simplified reload behavior that maximizes the reuse of cached resources. Specifically, the browser only validates the main resource and continues with a regular page load.

According to Google, this change results in 28% faster reload and consumes less bandwidth, power, and latency. One real world example from Facebook reports that page reloads from Chrome are now also 28% faster with 60% less validation.

Chrome 56 is already available on desktop, with Android and Chrome OS versions hitting the stable channel soon.

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: