The Google Chrome for Android Beta has just received experimental support for Opera Turbo-like data compression. If you’re lucky enough to own a device that’s supported by the Chrome Beta, you can install the new version from Google Play and flip the switch to see what kind of data savings you can expect.
For Google OS blogger Alex Chitu, turning on data compression in Chrome saved more than 40%. The savings is achieved in the cloud, where Google’s SPDY proxy servers handle the bulk of the content delivery process — starting with DNS lookups. Images are re-compressed using Google’s own WebP standard, HTML code is analyzed and unnecessary characters and whitespace are removed, and the whole bundle is then squashed using gzip compression. After the squeezing is complete, content is finally pushed from Google’s proxy servers to your device.
All content transmitted using Chrome data compression has to pass through Google’s Safe Browsing filter, which makes sense. Google doesn’t want its own servers handling pages that could be riddled with malware. It’s also worth noting that Chrome won’t transmit HTTPS requests to the proxy servers. On any sites where HTTPS is now the protocol of choice (like Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter), compression won’t be able to reduce your bandwidth usage.
There’s also an interesting side effect from turning on data compression in the Chrome for Android Beta. The process renders ad-blocking tools useless, and it’s hard to believe that’s completely accidental. Google makes its living by serving up ads, and that can be tricky to do when Android users have ready access to low-level ad blockers.
But hey, if your primary reason for blocking ads on your mobile device is that they suck up too much bandwidth, maybe Google’s hoping that a 40% overall savings will help bring you back into the ad-viewing fold.
Lately, Microsoft has had a bit of a nostalgia thing going when it comes to Internet Explorer. The company’s latest throwback is a new addition to the IE Test Drive site, a benchmark built around the classic Minesweeper game that’s been entertaining and frustrating Windows users for years.
This time around, however, Microsoft has ditched the muted grays and opted for a more… let’s call it “eye catching”… color scheme. The icing on the cake is the animated search lights that spin around the background. The whole presentation is a gaudy display of Internet Explorer 10′s hardware acceleration muscle and improved standards support. You can play a round of Minesweeper in your browser, of course, but the real purpose here is to show off IE10. Choose Island or Checker from the benchmark drop down and Minesweeper springs into action to solve itself. A word of warning to those who have yet to master the puzzler: the benchmark clears the board every single time without tripping a single mine.
So how does IE10 compare to the competition? It’s better, of course. Just because you’re offering up a benchmark built using standard code doesn’t mean you won’t cater to your own browsers’s strengths. On my test system, IE10 beat all other browsers handily. Firefox came close on the Island test, finishing in 7.9 seconds to IE10′s 3.9. Chrome lagged way behind and clocked in at 12 seconds, and it couldn’t even properly display the search light animation.
What’s really important here isn’t which browser performs best. It’s the fact that Microsoft now offers a web-based version of Minesweeper that runs in any standards-compliant browser. As long as you don’t mind the purple hues, it’s worth adding to your time waster bookmarks.