Chrome for Android has long had a Data Saver function that tried to optimize the loading of web pages on slow Internet connections to, well, save users data and money. As useful as that may be, it was only available for unsecured HTTP pages, which is pretty ironic considering how hard Google has been pushing for using HTTPS. That all changes with the latest version of Chrome for Android which support Chrome Lite Pages, which is just a fancy name for optimized HTTPS pages.
The reason why Data Saver initially didn’t work with HTTPS pages lies in the way the feature operates. When Chrome detects that the user is on a 2G or slower network or that it would take more than 5 seconds to load a page, Data Saver kicks in by sending the page to Google’s servers to be rendered in an optimized way and then sends that lite version to your phone. It’s pretty much the same method Opera used that made its mobile browser so popular in the past.
That process is, of course, contrary to the encrypted and secure nature of HTTPS pages, so Google had to make a few tweaks. In the case of these pages, only the URL is sent to Google’s servers. All other critical information, like cookies and personalized content, don’t get shared with Google for security and privacy reasons. Other than that, though, Chrome Lite Pages work in the same way.
Google claims that Data Saver can reduce data consumption by as much as 90% and make pages load twice as fast. Chrome Lite Pages will be explicitly marked in the address bar and users will have the option to load the original unoptimized version if they want. If they do so often for the same web page, Chrome will eventually disable Data Saver for that page automatically.
Chrome Lite Pages combines two of Google’s major concerns for the mobile web. It is pushing for more security via HTTPS while also encouraging developers to optimize pages for efficient data use. Chrome users on Android should note, however, that Data Saver can sometimes break pages due to those optimizations and the best solution is still for developers and site owners to optimize pages on their end.