Google Chrome will soon suck up less data on Android — here's how

Google Chrome app
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Google Chrome could soon become less resource-hungry on Android phones with the introduction of LiteVideos, which aims to allow for low-resolution video streaming to help save data. 

Earlier this year, Google replaced the Data Saver feature in Chrome with a new "Lite Mode," which compresses web pages using Google’s servers, and then serves up pages that are a lot less data-intensive. Now such a process is being applied to videos to reduce their impact on both cellular data consumption and hardware resources on Android phones with low-end specifications. 

According to Techdows, the video compression feature will soon come to the full release of Chrome 86, and will also work on Windows 10, macOS, Linux, and Chrome OS machines. 

“The LiteVideo optimization will help users save data on media streams by encouraging media players to use lower bitrates for LiteMode users,” the Chromium bug tracker for Chrome browser builds explained. Furthermore, the LiteVideo feature effectively simulates low bandwidth conditions that then throttle streaming media to adapt to the lower data throughput by lowering video resolution. 

Currently, LiteVideo can be enabled in the Canary experimental version of Chrome. It requires a little bit of work such as searching for the "Lite" option in the test browser and enabling the “LiteVideos” and “Force LiteVideos Decision” flags for the test browser. Once set up, the video optimization feature will then be switched on in Chrome Canary, which you can try out on Android by downloading it in the Play Store.

If you have a flagship Android phone such as the Galaxy S20 Ultra or the OnePlus 8 Pro, and a carrier contract with plenty of cellular data, then such a feature won’t appeal too much. But for people with lower-end smartphones, being able to throttle the data demands of streaming videos in Chrome could prove to be a welcome new feature.

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.