When Data Saver in Chrome for Android first launched, the feature was focussed on reducing data usage. Given its other capabilities today, Google is renaming it “Lite mode” and making the capability Android-only. The desktop Chrome extension is being deprecated in the coming weeks.
Lite mode in Chrome for Android still works by using Google’s servers to first compress the pages visited by a user. The end result is your phone or tablet downloading a site that is up to 60% smaller with minimal quality differences. However, the feature now also works to load pages faster and use less device memory.
Back in March, Google announced that these data saving features now extend to HTTPS pages. “Lite” versions of a page are triggered when Chrome estimates load times longer than five seconds. This is equivalent to 2G-like speeds, with Google also taking into consideration device capabilities.
If Chrome predicts that a page will take longer than 5 seconds for the first text or image to show on screen, it will load a Lite version of the page instead. Lite pages are highly optimized to load considerably faster. A whitepaper will be published in the coming months that will explain this in more detail.
On the privacy front, only the URL of an HTTPS page is shared with Google, not cookies, login information, or personalized page content. These “Lite” pages are marked as such in the Omnibox.
Lite mode is now only available on Chrome for Android, with the rebrand live as of version 74 this week. It can be enable in Settings > Lite mode, with a graph and list of data savings available here.
Meanwhile, Google is also deprecating the Chrome Data Saver extension for desktops with that upcoming release. Unlike on mobile, the feature was never directly integrated into the browser, with the extension never gaining HTTPS support.
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