Web pages today are a far cry from their ancestors. Many of them offer rich experiences that come at a literal price of data consumption and load times. That is why Google developed a Data Saver feature for Chrome to help ease the burden at the expense of sending your web traffic through Google’s servers. Despite calling it a success, Google is ironically killing that feature for Chrome on the desktop while giving it a new name on Android.
Data Saver performs a two-fold function, at least in its current form. First, it reduces data consumption by as much as 60%, Google claims, by compressing the pages before sending them to the browser. More recently, however, it has also taken on the duty of making pages load faster and reduce memory consumption, which is Google’s reason for renaming “Data Saver” into “Lite Mode”.
Lite Mode, however, also has its own identifying characteristics. In this mode, if Chrome determines that it will take more than 5 seconds for even the first text or image to show up, it will load Lite pages that are optimized for speed. Lite pages now also work with HTTPS pages while still respecting users’ privacy.
Lite mode, however, is only available for Android. If you already had Data Saver enabled, the Lite Mode switch in Chrome for Android’s settings will automatically be enabled, too. Otherwise, you’ll have to manually do it yourself after the fact.
It is strange that Google is also deprecating the Data Saver extension for Chrome on desktops instead of just renaming it. In other words, desktop users will no longer be able to benefit from the data and time-saving features it brings. Not a problem when you’re at home or on Wi-Fi but those on 4G via hot spots, tethering, or direct support will be left out.