A New Google Chrome 86 Feature Could Extend Your Laptop Battery Life By Hours

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Google is looking at ways to extend the battery life of devices running Chrome with significant numbers of tabs open in the background. The search giant has announced that starting with Chrome 86, it will ship a new feature that limits JavaScript timer wake ups in background web pages. Chrome's new feature will be part of the chrome://flags settings area.

The new setting will limit the JavaScript timer wake ups in background web pages to one wake-up per minute. Apple also limits wake-ups to the same time frame in Safari. Google will reportedly use the new feature in Chrome for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and Chrome OS. Ahead of rolling out the new feature, Google has been doing some research to see how limiting JavaScript wake ups could extend the battery life of devices running the Chrome browser.

Google found that users see no benefit from excessive usage of timers when web pages are open in the background. JavaScript timers are typically used for things like checking scroll position changes, creating reporting logs, analyzing interactions with ads, and other things. These unnecessary tasks in the background result in increased battery consumption with no benefit to the user. We also hope that the setting might prevent web pages that frequently refresh in the background from doing so.

In testing, a Chrome browser with 36 random tabs open in the background with a blank foreground tab was used first. The experiment was performed twice, once with the browser as it is now allowing JavaScript timers to run whenever the web page wants and the other with the timer wake ups limited to one per minute. Google found that throttling the script timers extended battery life by almost 2 hours for users with 36 background tabs open if the foreground tab is blank.

Google's second experiment had the same 36 tabs in the background but played a full-screen mode YouTube video in the foreground with settings tweaked to keep the display from going idle. The "automatically adjust brightness" setting was also turned off. In that test, the battery life of the device lasted 36 minutes longer, with the timers throttled. Extending battery life is an excellent thing for all Chrome users, and this is a feature we are looking forward to.

It sounds like Chrome 86 will bring some significant changes for Chrome fans to enjoy on all devices. We recently learned that Chrome 86 would also feature 64-bit support for Android devices.