Google Chrome’s latest update extends MacBook battery life

Google Chrome’s latest update extends MacBook battery life

Google has announced several changes to its Chrome web browser that can boost the battery life on MacBooks, extending how much usage users can get out of a single charge. By optimizing systems like memory compression and JavaScript timers, MacBook users can now browse the web via Chrome and watch YouTube videos for longer, with tests conducted on a MacBook Pro 13 (M2, 2022) achieving 17 hours of web browsing and 18 hours of video playback on YouTube.

Google didn’t provide figures for the device’s battery life prior to this update, so we can’t make a direct before and after comparison, but The Verge managed to drain the battery of the same MacBook in 16 hours and 30 minutes running a variety of everyday tasks. Google’s performance tests were conducted using Chrome version 110.0.5481.100, and the tech giant claims that the new energy optimizations will also benefit older MacBook hardware. François Doray, software developer for Chrome has confirmed to The Verge that these optimizations will also be applied to Windows, Linux, and Android devices in coming Chrome releases.

But what has actually changed? Google fine-tuned the garbage collection and memory compression of recently created iframes (an element that loads another HTML element inside of a webpage), reducing energy consumption without impacting long-term memory usage. JavaScript timers — created to execute a task or function at a particular time — have been tweaked to wake the CPU of a device less frequently and remove obsolete timers entirely. Finally, Chrome has been modified to ignore unnecessary style, layout, paint, raster, and GPU steps on websites, with a similar update also implemented to the Chrome UI. Most of these optimizations should go undetected by the user.

Google also released a new Energy Saver mode for Chrome earlier this month that extends battery life by limiting any unnecessary background activity on websites, such as visual effects like smooth scrolling on animations or videos. The search giant claims that enabling this mode can grant users an additional 30 minutes of browsing time when tested against the same MacBook Pro 13 (M2, 2022). It’s not much, but every second counts if you’re trying to finish up important tasks before your laptop dies.

The Chrome stable desktop channel was updated to version 110.0.5481.100 on February 14th for Windows, Mac, and Linux devices, which Google disclosed would roll out “over the coming days/weeks.” A full list of changes for this release is available to view via the update log.