This Google Chrome upgrade will give you a huge battery life boost

(Image credit: Future)

Google Chrome is a resource hog. You know it, we know it and one would have to assume Google knows it too — though perhaps not, judging from what little has been done over the years to mitigate the browser's longstanding reputation for sucking battery life.

Fortunately, though, a fix might be on the way that could seriously help your laptop last much longer while using Chrome.

A new experimental flags setting in Chrome 86 has been unearthed by The Windows Club, and its purpose is to limit Javascript timers so that inactive tabs won't constantly update in the background.

The new policy wakes up the Javascript timer once a minute after a tab has been left untouched for 5 minutes, which is similar to Safari's behavior. Google is citing an immediate and noticeable lift in longevity with it active, according to a document shared by The Windows Club.

A laptop running Chrome with 36 tabs open and the experimental Javascript setting on lasted nearly two hours longer on a charge than the same laptop with that setting switched off. Google also conducted another test, with a similar number of overall tabs but the foreground one playing YouTube, and found that the new behavior still extended battery life by about 35 minutes.

It's surprising Google hadn't instituted this policy in the past, because you'd think that reducing background tab activity would present an easy and obvious opportunity for battery saving. The Windows Club says that this setting will remain an option in Chrome 86, and that Google is still exploring it, so it's unclear when or if it might become the default approach for Chrome going forward.

Thankfully, no matter where you use Chrome — on Windows, Mac, Chrome OS, Linux or even Android — the new Javascript timers setting should save you precious minutes to hours of battery life. Unfortunately, iPhones and iPads present the lone exceptions to that rule, because all iOS browsers incorporate Apple's WebKit engine anyway, so you won't see any changes to performance on that platform.

Adam Ismail is a staff writer at Jalopnik and previously worked on Tom's Guide covering smartphones, car tech and gaming. His love for all things mobile began with the original Motorola Droid; since then he’s owned a variety of Android and iOS-powered handsets, refusing to stay loyal to one platform. His work has also appeared on Digital Trends and GTPlanet. When he’s not fiddling with the latest devices, he’s at an indie pop show, recording a podcast or playing Sega Dreamcast.