Skip to main content

Hey Google, thanks for listening and making Chrome more battery-friendly

Hey Google, thanks for listening and making Chrome more battery-friendly

Share this story

A couple of months ago I wrote a plaintive article titled "Chrome is still a threat to your MacBook's battery." As the title suggests, it wasn't an original complaint and I was only reiterating a longstanding grievance — one that extends to Windows laptops with equal prevalence. No matter the platform, Google's Chrome browser consumes significantly more energy than the default Safari or Internet Explorer alternatives.

Today, however, it might be more proper to use the past tense and say consumed instead. Google has updated Chrome with an overdue power-saving feature: pausing Flash content where it's not deemed central to the website being browsed. Flash has grown infamous for its rapacious use of resources and uncanny ability to destroy any mobile device's battery life. So less Flash should equate to — well, let's use Google's own words: "This update significantly reduces power consumption."

"This update significantly reduces power consumption."

Apple's Safari browser doesn't integrate Flash like Chrome does, and even once you do install the plug-in, there's a Safari Power Saver feature that only plays Flash content when it's either at the center of a page or you click to activate it. So it's basically the exact feature that Google is rolling out today.

The only question is why it took so long. Mine was just one in a sea of voices expressing discontent about Chrome's power inefficiency. Why were they not heeded sooner? Part of the explanation surely lies in Google having more urgent priorities, such as the significant recent upgrade to Chrome for iOS. The future, according to every tech company everywhere, is mobile, so it makes sense for Google to ensure it makes the big changes it needs to stay in the lead there before it turns its attention back to the desktop. Then there's also Chrome's continuing superiority over other browsers. Even I had to admit the futility of my complaint: despite Chrome's issues, it remains my default and best browser because its bad aspects are outweighed by the many good ones.

It's because Google didn't absolutely have to improve Chrome's power efficiency (at least not yet) that I commend the company for doing it. Sure, it's a belated response, but the crowdsourced complaining that only the web can summon has identified a pain point and nudged the big Mountain View company to eventually fix it. That's not to be taken as license to just go whine at Google's door for trifling matters, but I do believe that complaints — particularly constructive and cordial ones — can be instrumental in pushing software development forward.

Constructive and cordial criticism works

We should remember that the people who build the software we use every day are precisely that — people — and their passion for their work is fed by the feedback that we, the users, provide. Google may seem aloof and sometimes unresponsive, but don't confuse that with the company being deaf to its users' wants and needs. There's always someone listening, and our shared dissatisfaction with Flash and its excesses has now turned power efficiency into a real priority for Chrome, with Google promising it "will be rolling out more power improvements in the coming months."

The present update, which is available in the beta version of Chrome today, won't fix everything that ails the browser, but it aims to rein in one of its biggest downsides. There's no guarantee that Google will succeed, but I'm happy to see it trying.

Verge Video: How Google solved our photo storage nightmare

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 8 minutes ago Not just you

T
Thomas Ricker8 minutes ago
The Simpsons pays tribute to Chrome’s dino game.

Season 34 of The Simpsons kicked off on Sunday night with an opening credits “couch gag” based on the offline dino game from Google’s Chrome browser. Cactus, cactus, couch, d’oh! Perfect.


T
Youtube
Thomas Ricker7:29 AM UTC
Table breaks before Apple Watch Ultra’s sapphire glass.

”It’s the most rugged and capable Apple Watch yet,” said Apple at the launch of the Apple Watch Ultra (read The Verge review here). YouTuber TechRax put that claim to the test with a series of drop, scratch, and hammer tests. Takeaways: the titanium case will scratch with enough abuse, and that flat sapphire front crystal is tough — tougher than the table which cracks before the Ultra fails — but not indestructible.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
E
External Link
Emma RothSep 25
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.