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Google speeds up Chrome for iOS with new data compression feature

Google has also been bringing similar capabilities to Android devices

Google's Chrome Web browser for iOS devices has been updated to include several enhanced features, including data compression designed to speed up page loading.

Reducing data consumption and improving the speed of Web performance on mobile devices is something Google has been working toward in recent months. At the company's I/O developers conference in May, new file compression formats for images and video were announced for Android-powered mobile devices, drawing partly from capabilities already present in Chrome for the desktop.

The latest Chrome update, released Wednesday, brings some of those concepts over to devices powered by Apple's iOS.

The data cost savings, the company said, will reduce data usage and speed up page load times. Users can view their data savings in the app's bandwidth management settings. These data-reduction features will be available to all users over time, Google said.

The update also builds in interoperability with other Google apps, giving users the option to open links for YouTube, Maps, Google+ and Google Drive in the app instead of in the browser. In the update, there are also voice search enhancements to provide text-to-speech for all variations of English, Spanish, German and several other languages. Users can also now access their full browser history to view a list of websites the person has visited while using Chrome in standard mode.

On the whole, the new features are not groundbreaking, but the more interesting development is the expansion of the bandwidth management features, said Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner. "Google is working to make the Web experience better even as it promotes its own app store," he said.

"Web tends to get left behind on mobile, but it's an important platform for communication and information," he said.

"Anything the operating system or distribution platform owners can do to curtail data traffic, while preserving the integrity of mobile data experiences, is a good thing," agreed John Jackson, an IDC analyst. That's especially true as mobile devices move toward becoming the mainstream, if not dominant, platform for consuming content.

"There's a case to be made that Google has an interest in Web-ifying apps, or app-ifying the Internet," he said.

Google's Chrome browser has seen a steady rise in usage rates over the past couple of years, Google executives said at the I/O conference. At the time of last year's show, there were 450 million monthly active users, and as of this past May there were more than 750 million users, according to the company.

"Our goal is to make the Web better, both on the desktop and mobile," said Linus Upson, VP of engineering for Chrome, at the conference.

The Chrome software is overseen by Sundar Pichai, who also heads Google's Android mobile operating system. The executive is meeting with members of the press next week at an event in San Francisco, but it is not clear whether any new Chrome product will be announced then.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com


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