Google’s new Chrome feature could boost your laptop’s battery for free

Close up of woman hands plugging battery charger on laptop at home
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A new feature coming to Chrome could give a boost to your laptop’s battery – potentially solving one of the biggest problems with using Google’s web browser on a mobile device.

According to the About Chromebooks website, there’s a new flag (which is an experimental feature) in Chrome OS 105 which stops JavaScript running in the background on websites that you have open in tabs, but aren’t looking at.

This expands on a feature added in Chrome OS 88, which set a five-minute timer that prevented the scripts from running straight away. The idea was that these scripts take up CPU power, and the more your laptop’s processor is used, the faster the battery is used up.

If you have a lot of tabs open that are all running JavaScript, this can then have a big impact on the battery life of your laptop.

As About Chromebooks found, in Chrome OS 105 there is a new experimental flag:


This, according to the documentation by Google, will reduce the ‘grace period’ from five minutes to just 10 seconds, as long as the web page is opened and hidden (for example, if you open a webpage in a new tab, but don’t switch to the tab instantly).

Analysis: What this means for you 

Calm female executive meditating in front of a laptop

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It seems that since being added in Chrome OS 88, the “Quick Intensive Timer Throttling of Loaded Background Pages” feature has been successful, leading Google to look into reducing the “conservative” grace period of five minutes to a matter of seconds.

In a post on the Chrome Platform Status page, it’s reported that “This is expected to extend battery life. An experiment on the Canary and Dev channels did not reveal any regression to our guiding metrics and there are [sic] significant improvement (~10%) to CPU time when all tabs are hidden and silent.”

As a Chrome OS flag, it’s expected that this feature will primarily benefit Chromebooks, which run the operating system. It’s based on the Chrome browser, and makes use of multiple tabs, so we expect Chromebook battery lives, which are already very impressive, to get even longer.

However, does this mean non-Chromebook owners are out of luck? Not necessarily, as we’d imagine this feature will also make it into the Chrome web browser, so if you use that on your regular laptop, you will also hopefully see your device lasting longer while on battery – and all for free.

This remains an experimental feature for now, so it’s not enabled by default, though you can turn it on by going to chrome://flags and finding it there. Hopefully after a period of testing to ensure it doesn’t cause any problems, it’ll be added to Chrome OS and Chrome in the near future. 

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.