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April 12, 2013

Reduce Data Usage in Chrome for Android

The latest release of Chrome Beta for Android added an interface for the data compression proxy. You no longer have to enable a flag, just open Chrome's menu, go to the settings, select "Bandwidth management", "Reduce data usage" and enable the feature.

You can start visiting your favorite sites and check back the "Bandwidth management" to see some stats. For more detailed stats, type chrome://net-internals in the omnibox and select the "Bandwidth" section in the left sidebar.

My total savings percentage is 33.5%. It's less impressive than Opera Mini's 90% savings percentage, but Opera Mini is not a browser. It's just a thin client app and all the rendering and JavaScript processing is performed on Opera's servers, so Opera Mini only needs a simplified OBML file. It's more appropriate to compare Chrome's data compression proxy with Opera Turbo, a feature available in the Opera Mobile browser. "In November 2009, the average compression rate for Opera Turbo was 63.6%," according to an Opera report [PDF], while in April 2011 the average compression rate was 60.5%. Apparently, Opera incorrectly defines compression rate as the savings percentage. An explanation for Opera's better performance could be that Chrome is more likely to load mobile pages than Opera Mobile, which usually loads desktop sites. Mobile pages are already optimized, so there's not much to compress.

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