The recent Chrome Beta for Android update was notable for including password and form sync, but it turns out there is another feature lurking beneath the surface, and it's potentially a big deal. Google has built in a data compression proxy for Chrome that can reduce bandwidth usage by up to 50% on mobile networks. You'll have to do a little digging through the Chrome flags, but it's relatively easy to switch to the fast lane.


Just type chrome://flags into the address bar and enable the Experimental Data Compression Proxy. When that's done, all HTTP traffic will be routed through Google's SPDY servers where pages will be optimized for Chrome. Images account for most of the data downloaded, so Google will use the WebP format to shrink JPEGs and PNGs. JavaScript and CSS will also be streamlined, but Google claims the process is "intelligent" and shouldn't completely break websites. All resources will be gzip compressed when they reach the device for additional bandwidth savings, as well.

This feature is reminiscent of Opera's Turbo mode, or the Kindle Fire's Silk browser. As carriers continue to impose restrictive caps, this feature could get a lot of use. There is no UI toggle right now – just the flag. It was only spotted in the source code the other day, and it's already in the Beta. I imagine this feature will be made more accessible at some point in the not too distant future.

[Chromium Blog, Google Developers, François Beaufort]