Google Tests New Chrome Battery Saver Feature To Tame Its Resource-Hogging Ways

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Google is continuing to develop new ways to preserve the battery life of your laptop. Google’s new Battery-Savings Meta Tag would allow websites to ask that Chrome enable various battery-saving features. The Battery-Savings Meta Tag will likely make an appearance in Chrome v86 and v87. Users can currently experiment with this feature through the Origin Trials platform for developers.

Some websites can be very resource-intensive, including video or video-conferencing websites that have become especially popular during the current COVID-19 health crisis. Google Chrome in particular has a reputation for being power hungry (many users will even avoid using Chrome if their device is low on battery and they have no way to plug-in).

The Battery-Savings Meta Tag would allow Google Chrome to optimize for battery life or CPU usage on certain sites. The website would be able to detect whether or not the OS or the user is in a power-saving mode. According to GitHub, the website would need to add certain code to allow for frame rate reduction or generic slowdown of script execution. They would use a CSS media query if the website wanted to "change behavior based on battery-savings settings." Chrome would then apply various power-efficient features while the user is on that particular website.

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Google also recently announced that they are working on limiting JavaScript timer wake ups in background web pages. This new feature would limit timer wake-ups to once per minute. Excessive wake-ups can consume quite a bit of battery life and are often unessential to the browser’s overall performance.

Google performed an experiment and discovered that battery life could be extended by roughly two hours (28 percent) if they limited the script timers. In this experiment, they had 36 tabs open with a blank foreground tab. In another experiment, they played a full-screen YouTube video in the foreground. They were able to increase the battery life by 36 minutes (13 percent) when they limited the script timers. This new feature will be available with Chrome v86. 

These various features will hopefully only benefit the consumer. Many people still find themselves primarily working from home and/or helping their children with online education. More than ever, battery life is a serious consideration for users.