Web browser makers have been making a point recently of accusing competitors’ software of draining your laptop battery. Now Google is making a change to its Chrome browser for desktop that should help users get longer battery life if they have a habit of keeping lots of browser tabs open in the background.

Essentially, the new background tab behavior will try to ensure that most background tabs don’t use more than 1 percent of the load of a CPU core. This should lead to lower power consumption and longer battery life. But it’s just the start.

Eventually Google is hoping to be able to fully suspend background tabs when they’re not in focus, allowing them to resume immediately when you click on them.

Note that all of this only works on tabs that can function properly in the background with these restrictions in place. What if you’re playing music or other audio in a background tab and you don’t want it to stop while you’re looking at other pages? Nothing unusual: Google’s new restrictions don’t apply to tabs playing audio or using WebRTC or WebSockets to keep real-time connections open.

So the new system should help you extend your laptop’s battery life while surfing the web… assuming you’re using your browser in a very specific (but pretty common) way.

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2 replies on “Google tweaks Chrome background tab behavior for better battery life”

  1. I feel like it’s already like that in Chrome on my Android tablet. I noticed my tablet never actually loads the gazillion tabs I have when I open Chrome, it just loads the one it’s currently showing and when I click one of the other one then it loads them. My tablet shouldn’t be able to run more tabs than my laptop yet it does, I’m guessing that’s why.

  2. The Great Suspender accomplishes the same thing. If you haven’t focused a tab in the last minute, hour, however long it’ll suspend the tab. Click back to it and it loads back in. It’d be nice to see this functionality in chrome by default though.

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