Google is amplifying its efforts to address the many issues that users of its products and services in less-developed countries face daily thanks to poor network infrastructure. Whether this is because Facebook has doubled similar efforts in the last two years we really don’t know. What we know is that users stand to benefit a lot from such moves.
Take for instance an announcement made by the company today that was tucked neatly below every other announcement we seem to have given attention to today (like the YouTube Go app and Google Station): that the company will optimise the Chrome mobile browser and the Play Store when it detects that users are on slower connections like 2G, for instance.
It is common knowledge that the two apps (Chrome and Play Store) are data guzzlers and work fine only when one has a good connection. By good here I mean consistent 3G coverage at the very least. Things normally take a turn for the worst when one’s network bars drop to EDGE territory.
Google wants to change all that.
First, Chrome mobile will now have a data saving feature that is more aggressive than whatever we have at the moment which is pretty much useless.
Chrome's data savings feature is basically useless pic.twitter.com/c0FqCyXRSN
— K I R U T I (@kiruti) September 11, 2016
According to Google, the updated data saving feature on its Chrome mobile browser will save up to 67% of video data. Pages will also be optimised for proper rendering on 2G networks so that they load much faster (up to 2 times) and save up to 90% of data. Users will also be able to save pretty much everything for later offline viewing.
Secondly, Google Play will load up everything it needs when one is on Wi-Fi so that it doesn’t have to struggle when a user is on a weak connection. If it is an app one wants to install, they will be presented with an option to “Wait for Wi-Fi”.
The Google News & Weather application that is usually preloaded on most devices with near-stock Android builds and available on the Play Store for everyone else, will also pack a “Lite” mode that scraps everything but the headline thereby saving users up to two thirds the data that would normally have been used. The app has for a long time allowed users to sync content and access it later (I remember doing this as far back as 2011).
Like previous efforts the company has concentrated on in YouTube and Google Maps, these features will be available in select countries like India and others where slow networks are prevalent.