Background tabs in Chrome on Android will soon have a five-minute loading limit imposed on them by Google. This was first reported on by XDA-Developers following the initial spotting of a Chromium Gerrit commit, although since then more detailed documentation on the feature has come to light, suggesting it is nearing implementation.
This is designed as a means to improve the Chrome browser user experience on Android – something many have complained about in the past. Therefore, the documentation points out that after five minutes Chrome will automatically stop background tabs from loading any further. To some, five minutes might already seem like too long, and Google does seem to be aware of this as it refers to the limit as "a generous grace time." Suggesting the limit had been decided on as a means to ensure tabs are given enough time to load what they need to. Needless to say, some tabs are purposely designed to remain active in the background for longer periods of time — music streaming services being one such example — and these will not be affected by the change.
While this is designed to speed up the use of Chrome and improve device performance in general, there are other benefits noted in the documentation too. With the continued use of data and battery life being two such examples. Evidently, these are examples that mostly relate to a mobile devices such as a smartphones and this is why the new feature is primarily being aimed towards the mobile version of Chrome, with no word on whether it will also make its way to the desktop version. Another of the clear benefits of this change is that it will allow Chrome more resources to be directed to the foreground tab – the one the user is actually engaging with at the time — without further impacting on performance. While the feature looks set to go live soon, there are no details on when exactly. Either way, anything that does look to improve the performance of Chrome without impacting on the user experience will likely be welcomed by users of the browser.