Google Chrome on Android will stop background tabs after 5 minutes to improve performance
What once was dominated by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Google Chrome has done a great job at dominating the overall web browser market. Various reports project Chrome’s usage numbers between 50% to just over 62%, and this has actually been both a blessing and a curse. Google has been under the investigation from both Russia and Europe for their actions and their practices just may have to change in the near future. Still, even with the popularity of the Chrome browser, users have a number of complaints. Google engineers have been working on improving these lately and Chrome for Android will soon stop background tabs after 5 minutes of inactivity.
We first found a commit in the Chromium Gerrit that showed the team was working on improving the performance of Google Chrome on Android. This was a feature that was originally meant to be enabled by default, but that never happened. Then, we found another commit that mentioned the StopLoadingInBackground flag again, but this time the comment said that the feature would be on by default. The summary of this new feature has been outlined here, but the gist of it is that Google Chrome of Android is trying to improve your device’s performance and save battery life by stopping the loading of tasks and fetching of resources of a Chrome tab when the renderer has been in the background for more than 5 minutes.
The folks at Google have been running an experiment over the last 5 months and believe they have ironed out all of the issues they were able to discover. Metrics of their tests show reduced CPU work in the background (which again, saves the device battery life) and it also showed improved foreground performance when there are two or more tabs loading. Google is aware that people listen to music and watch videos in picture-in-picture mode with Chrome, so naturally, these sorts of media playback are exempt from the intervention.
For those who are interested in the more technical details of this experiment, Google has published their design document here.