Chrome Wants To Throttle Your Tabs

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Google is continuously brushing up its Chrome browser to make it leaner and meaner, but a recent announcement for a still-to-come enhancement has left a slew of developers worried it could affect the proper functioning of their websites.

Chromium engineer Alexander Timin has detailed a future implementation that will essentially prompt Chrome to aggressively throttle (restrict) resources in the background tabs to prolong battery life and improve the overall browsing performance.

The tweak fundamentally aims to moderate poorly behaved pages – saturated with heavy JavaScript ads and analytics scripts – by placing a limit on the processing resources allocated to background activities consumption. This ought to make background tabs drain less CPU power.

Here’s a summary of the proposed modifications as outlined by Timin:

  • Each WebView has a budget (in seconds) for running timers in background.
  • A timer task is only allowed to run when the budget is non-negative.
  • After a timer has executed, its run time is subtracted from the budget.
  • The budget regenerates with time (at rate of 0.01 seconds per second).

While the intended changes are generally a good thing for consumers, some web developers remain reserved about the plausibility of the tweaks, speculating the update will result in a litany of malfunction once the update rolls out.

Blogger and developer Samuel Reed has voiced out his concerns that the implementation could ultimately prevent a boatload of popular apps like Slack and Discord from firing (timely) notifications when running in the background.

This is what Reed said:

“When idle, your application’s timers may be delayed for minutes. Aside from terrible hacks like playing zero-volume sounds, you have no control over this. Avoiding expensive CPU work is not a panacea; that some applications must do significant work in the background, including syncing data, reading delta streams, and massaging said data to determine whether or not to alert the user.

Worse yet, the heuristic is based on local CPU time; faster clients may have no issue and face no throttling, but slower devices often will, causing cascading processing and notification delays.”