Nobody can doubt that the Internet has evolved since Microsoft’s famous reversal about the significance and importance of the Internet around and about the time of the release of Windows 95. When Windows 95 was brand new, the typical Internet connection started off with listening to a modem squeak and chirrup its way into connecting with the Internet before your computer was able to connect to the Internet via a typical 40 Kbps or so connection speed. However, over the last twenty years so Internet connection speeds have significantly increased. Web pages are loading much quicker than ever and so designers have been incorporating more and more sophisticated HTML code and of course, more and higher quality media. Using a modern smartphone on a slow, old 2G network, especially over GPRS rather than EDGE, is painful if you are used to a 4G LTE or high speed WiFi connection. 3G HSPA is usually tolerable – however, many people around the world are restricted to a 2G Internet connection and because of this, Google has an internal project designed to help. This project does not yet have an official name but it has been nicknamed “Google Web Light” internally.
The project first came to light ago when Google launched field trials of the technology in Indonesia but the project is now being rolled across to India. What it does it optimize websites launched in the Google Chrome or ASOP web browser when accessed via the Google Search application or command. Google’s Hiroto Tokusei wrote this of the project: “If you’re in India, with an Android phone and on a slow connection, like 2G, you should start to see pages loading a whole lot faster, while using far less data, via your Chrome or Android browser from Google’s search results.” According to the field trials in Indonesia, Google reports that optimized web pages loaded four times faster, using eighty percent less data than before. On a slow Internet connection, this makes a significant difference to performance and the overall usability of the Internet, especially when the page the device is loading is not the one you needed!
Google’s technology works by passing the whole webpage through its own servers and transcoding it to reduce the size. The technology removes and caches a few elements and removes excess advertisements, limiting these to three per page. The optimized pages preserve “a majority” of the relevant content but also provide a link so that customers can view the original page if required. Google advises that those websites that have opted out of Google Web Light, those that require cookies and those that use a significant amount of data will not be optimized. It also says that websites “technically difficult to transcode” will not be optimized.
Google Web Light appears to be a great way to get the most out of a slow connection. Google note that the service is coming soon to Brazil and if they announce it it coming to other networks, we’ll let you know! Meanwhile, have a look at the YouTube clip below for an example of how Google Web Light can improve web browsing performance.