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Google Launches Reactive Prefetch For Web Searches To Speed Up Chrome For Android

December 9, 2014 - Written By David Steele

I’ve been using the Android Chrome browser since launch for a few reasons. Partially, it’s because I’m lazy and my Nexus devices came with the Chrome browser. I don’t like the decision of what browser to use! The other main reason is because Chrome synchronizes my history and bookmarks with my Google account and I connect all of my devices up using the same account; the ability to pick up my tablet and easily go to the same webpage that I was viewing on my smartphone a half hour earlier is surprisingly useful. If you use the Nokia Z Launcher on your smartphones, it picks up on your synchronized history between devices and makes for a very seamless Internet experience.

Google have today announced a new feature coming to a Chrome mobile search browser near you; “reactive prefetch.” The difference in performance is reckoned to be between 100 to 150 milliseconds; if you’re using a suitably fast enough Internet connection, you should start to notice this from right now. The upgrade is limited to the Android Chrome application as this is the only browser that currently and reliably supports dynamically inserted prefetch hints, which uses the Google web crawler service. The technology in use will accelerate website downloading (and ultimately rendering) based on a link that the user clicks. In essence, it’s a little bit like playing fetch with a dog: when you throw the stick, the hound will bound away in the direction of the stick so that it’s much quicker catching and bringing it back. In the case of Chrome, when you click on a link, the browser knows where you’re heading and looks for the hints that tell it what else it should download at the same time so that the site renders quicker on your mobile browser. Google’s technology can be used to identify those parts of a website that are likely to slow things down and here the idea is that with time and refinement (on the part of web designers), it will improve browsing.

It’s too soon to tell if Google’s performance improvement is noticeable but I’m confident that over time and as the technology is adopted across more and more websites, we’ll see an improvement in browser response after hitting a site following a search. If I didn’t already use the Chrome browser, I’m not sure that this news would persuade me, but it’s good to see that Google are working on many aspects of mobile browsing. How about our readers? What mobile browser(s) do you use? Have you already noticed an improvement in Google searches over Chrome? Let us know in the comments below.