Google kills download-shrinking Lite Mode browser tech

Mobile data is cheap so Chrome doesn't need to bother saving it any more

Google has announced that it's going to deprecate "Chrome Data Saver" – a feature added to the mobile version of its Chrome browser in 2014 to … wait for it … save data.

When Google introduced Data Saver it revealed that it saved data by re-routing web requests through a SPDY proxy to optimize content, re-encoding images to shrink them, and even trimming the fat from carelessly-coded HTML, JavaScript and CSS. Enabling Data Saver – it was an opt-in feature – also saw traffic routed through Google's Safe Browsing filters that aimed to stop malicious webpages making their way into mobile devices.

The post in which Google announced Data Saver omits the fact that rival browser Opera had already introduced similar features. It is also a quaint missive from a gentler age, as it includes the following observation:

In the US alone, more than a fifth of adult smartphone users now do most of their online browsing on their mobile device. Around the world, we're seeing a similar trend towards more mobile browsing.

These days, mobile devices are the dominant source of traffic to most websites. Mobile sites are constantly optimized to ensure they load quickly, mobile networks have sped up, and subscriptions for mobile data services offer many gigabytes of monthly downloads. In some nations limitless downloads – albeit at slow speeds past a certain threshold – have become a common feature of mobile plans. Data Saver has changed too – it's now known as "Lite Mode".

"In recent years we've seen a decrease in cost for mobile data in many countries, and we've shipped many improvements to Chrome to further minimize data usage and improve web page loading," states Chrome support manager Craig Tumblison's announcement regarding Data Saver's demise

He's not wrong about data being cheap these days. Google's preferred carrier in India, Jio, offers pre-paid plans offering 28 days of 1GB/day downloads, at ₹209 ($2.80) a month. A ₹399 ($5.30) plan offers 75GB every 28 days.

Lite Mode and Data Saver will pass into history with the release of Chrome M100 on March 29. Google's betting it won't be missed – and probably not even noticed. Tumblison added "Although Lite mode is going away, we remain committed to ensuring Chrome can deliver a fast webpage loading experience on mobile." ®

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