Google I/O 2013 Event: Chrome steps it up – By Gavin Muirhead

Think the internet is fine just the way it is? Google says eff that, and makes it better.


More exciting news out of the Google I/O presentation today, when Google announced support for numerous additions and new scripts to make your desktop and mobile browsing faster, more efficient, and much more engaging than it has ever been before.

I’ll start out by saying that, yes it’s true, I tend to be a bit of a resolution stickler. Why settle for 720p, when you can have 1080p? Why 1080p, when 4k is just around the corner batting its eyelashes at you? Don’t. Never settle for anything, and lucky for us Google shares the same outlook on things.

Google has announced enhanced ‘WebGL’ support for its Chrome browser, allowing your computer or phone to run more sophisticated 3D and 2D graphics while viewing online images, watching videos, or playing games because it now shares the power of its own GPU to enable better graphical content – all while never installing any software to your desktop or phone. It just happens. Chrome will automatically detect the proper Java script, optimize your GPU and then run your video or game at full detail, while taking the same amount of time to load as before.

For mobile users, we are often tied down to a data plan and our precious cat pictures and fail videos tend to eat into our allowed data usage, and sometimes get the best of our wallets in overages too. Leave it to Google to have a solution to that also in the form of two new codecs: WebP and WebM.

WebP, Via Google Developers: “WebP is a new image format that provides lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs. WebP lossy images are 25-34% smaller in size compared to JPEG images at equivalent SSIM index. WebP supports lossless transparency (also known as alpha channel) with just 22% additional bytes. Transparency is also supported with lossy compression and typically provides 3x smaller file sizes compared to PNG when lossy compression is acceptable for the red/green/blue color channels.”

Translation: WebP takes all those Grumpy Cat pictures, and displays them in a way that uses up to 30% less data than a regular jpg file would. That means you get 30% more feline fun, at the same cost to your phones data plan. This might seem cheap to a singular user, but those of us with a family plan can appreciate the savings when it’s laid out on all five phones/tablets on a contract.

What WebP does for images, WebM does for video.

With the new WebM VP9 codec, you can take the average data usage of a Youtube video that runs in X264 (standard for video currently) and run the same video in VP9 format instead, get the same visual quality and sound quality, but use again 20-30% less data to do it. When the average person uses their phone to watch countless hours of video clips and movies on their phones, instead of capitalizing on it, Google is actually streamlining the process within Chrome and Chrome Mobile to make it more cost effective for you to use their browsers. Youtube will be 100% VP9 compatible by year’s end, according to Google.

Large streaming companies such as Netflix and Hulu will surely be looking at this to streamline their server load, and as a sales point to consumers worried about data usage while on the go.

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