Chrome Browser for iOS and Android Promises to Cut Data Usage in Half

Google said today that the Android and iOS versions of its Chrome browser would now offer an option to compress data.

The option — which users have to enable manually — can cut data usage by up to 50 percent, according to the company.

Like competitors in the space, Chrome’s data compression scheme works by optimizing content and sending it through a proxy server (so yes, Google would have access to all the pages you browse, if that’s the kind of thing that concerns you).

As Google described the feature in a beta release, images are transcoded into more efficient formats and extraneous metadata gets reduced.

The data compression option can be found in Chrome “Settings” > “Bandwidth management” > “Reduce data usage,” Google said. It comes bundled with Google’s safe browsing feature that blocks sites the company has identified as phishing and malware.

Proxies are a technique long used by other mobile browsers, including Opera Mini and UCWeb. Last year, Facebook bought a company, Onavo, that compressed data across the smartphone, not just Web browsing.