back to article Google kills download-shrinking Lite Mode browser tech

Google has announced that it's going to deprecate "Chrome Data Saver" – a feature added to the mobile version of its Chrome browser in 2014 to … wait for it … save data. When Google introduced Data Saver it revealed that it saved data by re-routing web requests through a SPDY proxy to optimize content, re-encoding images to …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Google Doublespeak

    This...

    Although Lite mode is going away, we remain committed to ensuring Chrome can deliver a fast webpage loading experience on mobile

    Actually means

    Although Lite mode is going away, we remain committed to ensuring Chrome can deliver a fast webpage loading experience and subsequent data slurping returned to us in a timely manner on mobile

    Chrome and all its derivatives are banned from my network.

    1. pavel.petrman

      Re: Google Doublespeak

      From mine, too, especitally after the recent API changes regarding request blocking. The amount of bloatware currently present on almost all web pages is staggering. The only way to get fast webpage loadfing and overall meaningful experience today is, sadly, Firefox+uMatrix+Decentraleyes+endless tinkering with uMatrix settings.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Brave does a good job of saving my data - it blocks ads.

        That alone has allowed me much more surfing bang for my bucks.

      2. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Google Doublespeak

        I use ublock origin on Firefox. It blocks ads as well as a bunch of unwelcome scripts. It's only when you visit a site with & without it enabled that you realise how much all this crap affects load times, bandwidth, power and finger scrolling.

    2. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Holmes

      AMP

      > Although Lite mode is going away, we remain committed to ensuring Chrome can deliver a fast webpage loading experience and subsequent data slurping returned to us in a timely manner on mobile

      Yeah exactly, they're not going to kill off AMP any time soon, even though its use case for saving mobile data and improving page load speeds was just as dubious.

  2. pavel.petrman

    Obligatory XKCD

    Surely this change will break someone's workflow.

    Of course I don't have access to usage stats, but I firmly believe there is a long tail of people around the world, who would still benefit from such service. People stuck with 3G devices (for whatever reasons) in locations with 3G service disabled. People on the fringes of meaningful cell coverage.

    This change follows the trend of the last decade, whereas instead of striving at catering to everyone at the price of tolerable cmbersomeness, companies, that do have the means to cater to everyone, build their services only for the mainstreamest main stream and the rest is welcome to bugger off. Microsoft leads the pack, apparently inspired by Apple. Google seem to do their best to catch up.

    Of course they all are commercial companies and the sole point of their business is to make profit, and one can't ask, or indeed expect, them to keep a service running, which is not fit for this one purpose. My feeling is, though, that slowly the long tail gets longer and longer with increasing pace. I do hope this will open the door to markets seemingly well walled off by the big guns to young, fresh and innovative competition*.

    * The competition who will profess the resolution not to be evil at the very beginning, only to slowly ditch that notion, which, in turn, will again open door to competition, and so on and on:)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obligatory XKCD

      As an aside, what if? 2 has been announced :-)

      I've just pre-ordered a copy from Waterstones, a bit of a wait as on the xkcd website it says it will be out on 9/13.

      Or 13th September for people like me.

      No, I'm not trying to start a date format war!

      1. Martin-R

        Re: Obligatory XKCD

        There is of course an XKCD for that too!

        https://xkcd.com/2562/

    2. spireite Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory XKCD

      It's a fair point.

      I forget where I was, one of the tourist towns on the UK South Coast - maybe Arundel - and I thought I'd lost internet.

      On closer examination, I'd dropped down to Edge speeds, so switched on data saver functionality.

      I'd be more concerned people in emerging countries.

    3. Wade Burchette

      Re: Obligatory XKCD

      "This change follows the trend of the last decade, whereas instead of striving at catering to everyone at the price of tolerable cmbersomeness, companies, that do have the means to cater to everyone, build their services only for the mainstreamest main stream and the rest is welcome to bugger off."

      I've noticed that some websites are so bloated that it even taxes my Ryzen 3000 and 2000 MBPs internet unless I am using Firefox + NoScript. I have also noticed that when you call tech support to say a website is not working, the answer is almost always "Just use Google Chrome".

      I have concluded that these people design websites they like, not what you like or want. I call this myopia. They have powerful computers and they have ultrafast internet because they live in a big city. But they don't realize that not everyone can get or afford ultrafast internet and not everyone can afford a powerful computer. A website should be designed so that all your potential customers/visitors can use it, regardless of how good or bad their computer or internet is and regardless of which up-to-date browser is being used.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Obligatory XKCD

        I've noticed that some websites are so bloated that it even taxes my Ryzen 3000 and 2000 MBPs internet unless I am using Firefox + NoScript.

        As part of our introduction to Internet security we occasionally show people just how much code is hiding behind the innocently empty Google seach engine page. It makes quite an impression if you slap it on the table in printed out form (no, only the first three pages, the is an accurate count but blank so we can recycle it).

        Our marketing types also know that our website is to inform and to help people choose whatever they want from our company, it is not there to entertain them - they can go to NetFlix and cartoon sites for that. Ergo, anyone who dares to suggest adding bells and whisles to the site that do not help that focus is, er, shall we say "not going to be met with a favourable response", and God help any nitwit who suggests spamming visitors and customers with survey - the new form of spam intended to show impressive figures (swiftly replaced by made up ones if they don't meet expectation) but which tell me that you lack confidence in your companies' performance so much that you're indirectly looking for compliments..

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory XKCD

      Speed is only part of the problem. 3G is being replaced by LTE and more around the world. But even if the handset does 4G, it may well be underpowered for all that JS that it has to compile, even if it may never run it. This is why Opera's proxy strips out all the JS and does some rendering on the server. This and a good ad-blocker is the way to deal with the bloat.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory XKCD

      "This change follows the trend of the last decade,"

      I would argue it's a trend that begin almost with the birth of the internet, possibly even the birth of the BBS. In the US where "local" phone calls were free, it was commonly assumed that was the case everywhere so many systems and services were built around that assumption. Meanwhile in the rest of the world, where per minute billing for all phone calls was the norm, we strived to make web pages that were as efficient as possible and used browsers that could be set to block images to save on time, use Usenet newsreaders to download the groups then go offline to read and reply etc. It's also still common in the UK to have mobile phone contracts that have quite limited data allowances.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    "mobile data services offer many gigabytes of monthly downloads"

    Be that as it may, Lite Mode has many advantages and there is no real reason to remove it.

    It's like saying "the price of gas has fallen so low, we've stopped making economical cars". No, you don't stop saving data just because in India they have great mobile data plans. I have a budget of 4.5GB/month - normally more than enough. Recently, there was a storm that cut my fiber connection for three days. Working from home, I used up a total of 6.8GB during that time, with a nice 70% increase in my phone bill for that month.

    Keep saving the data, you never know when you might need that.

    Besides, less clutter on the backend will do good for everyone.

    1. Lon24 Silver badge

      Re: "mobile data services offer many gigabytes of monthly downloads"

      It also neglects to add that while mobile data costs may have fallen when on your mobile provider's own network - us Brits are suffering horrendous increases if we dare to roam on EU networks. (and more if you are with 3).

      Back to turning mobile data off when abroad. It's so last millennium ...

  4. Detective Emil

    City dwellers

    Where I live in a European city, we more Gs than one can shake a stick at — none of them have even been shut down yet, afaict. But, out in the sticks, picking up a 3G signal can really help, compared to bad old GPRS. Even then, data-light sites are particularly welcome. Of course, an ad-blocker helps a lot.

  5. xyz Silver badge

    Wonderful...

    Just what I want when I'm doing the "is there any signal" dance in the woods... More bloody ads.

  6. Joe W Silver badge

    Not really my experience...

    "Mobile sites are constantly optimized to ensure they load quickly"

    They add pictures, animations, cutesy stuff (like the zoom on mouseover), ads, more bloat.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: Not really my experience...

      I read this line in the article and wondered exactly which world the author lived in!

      I don't believe web sites have generally been "optimised" since MS infected the universe with the Frontpage bloat-virus and instantly established that any webpage was impossible to construct without at least 10 times the code size it had the day before FP was released and any speed issues meant your connection wasn't fast enough ...

      Would actually be an interesting research project (if it hasn't been done already) to establish the global power wastage due to the delivery of excessive webpage content ...

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Not really my experience...

        Just came to post this. The only reason mobile websites are speeding up is because the network and the processor are both quicker.

        At work, we have an HR site for our annual reviews. It has a mobile mode (that behaves more or less the same as the full screen mode!). In either case, just getting the main page up requires about 47MB of crap to be fetched, 377 requests, and many of them to a database back end that is terminally slow.

        Best bit of my interview? Watching my boss correct my French in the part about "what did I think of the interview" where I wrote a couple of paragraphs detailing exactly how incompetent I think the so-called devs are to create such a piece of crap. ;)

        1. RichardBarrell

          Re: Not really my experience...

          47MB is impressive(ly bad).

          I mustache for clarification, please. Do you mean literally correcting your French, as in you called it a "c'etait un peut de merde" and the boss corrected the grammar/spelling/conjugation/noun gender or something....

          ...or are you alluding to the figurative "pardon my French, but, $SWEARING", and the boss took the swear words out?

          :D

          1. heyrick Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Not really my experience...

            Both.

  7. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge
    Stop

    Mobile pages optimized

    Mobile sites are constantly optimized to ensure they load quickly, mobile networks have sped up

    From my last 5 years experience working beside web developers they may optimize a web page so that it will load and render on their laptop when the developer tools are open and they have clicked the mobile icon to make the screen smaller. The vast bulk of them didn't notice that there was also a connection speed drop down in most browsers!

    People using phone and tablets, sure no problem, but they are all on wifi at home or work with 50Mb connections, or the equivalent 4G right?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Mobile pages optimized

      I've seen the same thing, even significant drops in performance as some nice (and clean) optimisations were removed when changing CMS and service supplier. The data on httparchive.org also confirms that websites are getting fatter and slower.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: there is a long tail of people around the world, who would still benefit from such service.

    Yes, but they're poor ...

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: there is a long tail of people around the world, who would still benefit from such service.

      And now they're going to be poorer, as (like Pascal above) they blow their data budgets.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've heard this for decades in another form.

    Every time Microsoft updated Windows to get you to spend money again, you also had to upgrade your hardware because it was always bigger and slower. Now they've got everyone on subscription the change is more towards needing a bigger Internet connection because of the ever increasing patch sizes and the amount of data they haul out of every system, camouflaged as usage metrics..

  10. Snowy Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Cheaper?

    While mobile data may have become cheaper it sure is not cheap.

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