Google's latest update for Chrome stops it guzzling so much battery life

Google Chrome is notorious for how much battery it consumes — but Google says it’s taking steps to fix that.

In an update to the web browser discussed in a blog post on Tuesday, Google says it will further “throttle” tabs you have open in the background that aren’t being used — giving them less resources so they consume less power. (We saw the update on Engadget.)

Right now, Google software engineer Alexander Timin writes, these background tabs “consume a third of Chrome’s power usage on desktop.”

That’s a lot of power that’s potentially going to waste, given the common habit of opening dozens of tabs and forgetting about them.

The new throttling mechanism identifies tabs that are using too much processing power in the background, and limits how much they can have access to. The result is “25% fewer busy background tabs” — saving on processing power and energy consumption, which should prolong device battery life.

It also won’t touch tabs that are maintaining a real-time connection or playing music. So if you’ve got the web version of Spotify playing, for example, the throttling won’t cause problems for that.

The ultimate plan is apparently for “background tabs to be fully suspended” — causing huge savings in power.

Chrome’s battery-guzzling is a constant pain point for users, and has been by competitors to attack the web browser. Microsoft, in a video advertising its rival browser Edge, put Chrome in a battery test against other web browsers, all running on identical laptops. Edge lasted seven hours and 22 minutes — versus just four hours 19 minutes for Chrome, three hours less.

This new version of Chrome (Chrome 57) is available to download or update to now.

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