Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New mobile Chrome release adds data compression, app shortcuts, and Translate for iOS

On Wednesday, Google announced a number of changes coming to its iOS and Android versions of Chrome. The updated apps, which should roll out in the next few days, will include application shortcuts, Google Translate (for iOS), and something very interesting for those on capped mobile data plans: a data compression feature.

The optional feature routes web requests through a SPDY proxy connection to Google’s servers where the company’s PageSpeed libraries compress and optimize the Web page, transcoding all images to the WebP format (which requires fewer bytes than other formats, such as PNG and JPEG).

This system is similar to those used by other companies, such as Opera with its Turbo feature for its own browser. Opera recently introduced Opera Max, which aims to do the same thing for all your unencrypted data (we noted issues with some apps, though, such as Facebook Connect on (yes, yes) Candy Crush).

According to Google, when switched on, Chrome’s data compression and bandwidth management feature can reduce data usage by up to 50 percent. To turn it on, Go to “Settings,” “Bandwidth management,” “Reduce data usage.”

In addition to that change, the iOS version of the app will get Google Translate. Android and desktop users, of course, already have access to that feature.

Finally, Android users will be able to save favorite websites to their homescreen -- in other words, create an application shortcut -- more easily. To create the shortcut, users simply select “Add to homescreen” from the toolbar menu.

However, as Google notes in the blog post announcing the release, some websites will open up in full-screen mode after doing so.

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