Google Chrome just made big changes to save your battery (but not big enough)

About time. However, though there might have been some improvements, it is still nothing like good enough yet.

I usually work for a few hours with my laptop on battery each day and can normally rely on 6-8 hours of battery life, even with lots of networked apps open, much more if I’m careful. Some days I can go off grid for 10 hours before warnings start to appear.

Yesterday I made the mistake of leaving Chrome running because I had been in a Hangout and forgot to close the app down. The browser-proper was shut, but the Hangouts app kept it running in the background. Apart from that, all I was doing was writing – I was not even browsing the web or checking my email. I got about 2.5 hours before the laptop hit 5%.

Chrome is one of the very few apps that predictably makes my machine fan whir, whether or not I have lots of tabs open. It is the only app I know of that grows if left unattended too – I have several times had to delete it from my system when the app has grown to 2GB or more (it’s because, on a Mac, it retains all of its previous versions in the app itself). Do they not employ smart software engineers at Google? I thought that was kind of the point of their hiring policy.

Hangouts would be an incredibly useful app if it weren’t for its dependence on Chrome. From a technical, usability, functional and connectivity perspective it is far better than Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp or Viber in almost every way. Seems that there’s a lot of foot-shooting going on here.

Though it did have a bad few years of slowness and bloat, Firefox has been far superior to Chrome for a year or two now and, of course, it is genuinely open, and largely free from commercial interests (I forgive it the integration of Pocket because I really like the service). It runs fast and lean, is highly usable, highly customizable, and solid as a rock.

I also really like Firefox Hello, the Mozilla answer to Skype et al, especially because it does not routinely route my conversations via the DSA, shower me with ads, or invade my privacy. Sadly, from a technical perspective, Hello still feels a little primitive and can be a bit glitchy.  It has a long way to go before it comes close to competing with Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime or Hangouts and its great strength of not being built explicitly to farm its users also means that it can be harder to set up a meeting: unless you have a Firefox account, you can’t just ad hoc call or message someone. It would be great if more than two people could be in a meeting too.



Address of the bookmark:

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor and Associate Dean, Learning & Assessment, at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology, and I teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems. I am a proud Canadian, though I was born in the UK. I am married, with two grown-up children, and three growing-up grandchildren. We all live in beautiful Vancouver.

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