Google is unveiling a number of new features designed to help Android smartphones work better when connected to slow or spotty networks.
That includes updates to the Chrome browser which allows users to download pages for offline reading or to compress more data while surfing the web and a trial of YouTube Go, which lets some users download videos from YouTube when they do have a connection and watch them when they’re offline or limited by slow speeds.
YouTube Go is only available in India at launch, and you’ll have to sign up to test the service before you can try it out. The new service is part of a larger push in India to make Google’s services more accessible in a country where speedy and reliable internet access isn’t always a given.
Other new features include support for Hindi when using the Google Assistant feature in the Allo chat app, the launch of Google Station, which makes it easy for businesses to partner with Google to make WiFi hotspots available to users, and a new “Lite mode” for the Google News and Weather app, allowing users with slow internet connections to view headlines without pictures or other graphics, reducing data usage.
The new Chrome features should be available to everyone. Google introduced a Data Saver feature a while back, allowing you to opt into a service that compresses web page data before sending it to your phone, reducing your bandwidth requirements. Now Data Saver can also compress MP4 video files to reduce data usage by up to 67 percent.
Some other web content can be compressed by up to 90 percent automatically when you’re surfing the web using a slow connection.
There’s also a new download icon in the Chrome menu, allowing you to save web pages, pictures, videos, or other content. If your connection drops out while a download is in progress, it will automatically resume when you’re back online.