Google Chrome nearly introduced feature that would have crippled web apps like Slack and Discord

The update could have improved battery life, but for a huge price

Aatif Sulleyman
Monday 30 January 2017 12:50
The company pulled the feature from its latest update, but hasn't given up on it completely
The company pulled the feature from its latest update, but hasn't given up on it completely

Google has just released the latest version of its Chrome browser, but it almost included a feature that could “break the web”.

Chrome 56 includes a number of performance improvements, including faster page loading times and red warnings when a shopping site isn’t secure.

However, it had been set to introduce a new tab-throttling feature too, which would have done users a lot more harm than good.

As explained by Samuel Reed on the STRML blog, Google intended to limit the resources of background tabs by giving them a “budget” and throttling them when their activity exceeded that, in an attempt to boost battery life.

“This is generally a Good Thing,” wrote Reed. “Browser vendors should be concerned about battery life, and this will do a lot to help. Unfortunately, this implementation is ignoring the new reality: the browser is no longer just a reading device; it is the world's largest application platform.

“This will break the web.”

The move would have crippled a number of web apps, such as Slack and Discord, as they carry out a lot of their work behind the scenes.

“What good is the user granting the Notification permission if we can't do the processing necessary to even fire the notifications?” added Reed.

Fortunately, Google cottoned on to the problems before releasing Chrome 56, but it hasn’t given up on the idea.

“Unfortunately, our current implementation throttles WebSockets. Because of this we ARE NOT SHIPPING this intervention in M56,” it said.

“The current plan is to disable time-budget background timer throttling for the pages with active connection (websocket, webrtc and server-sent events) and to ship in M57 (subject to further feedback).”

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