The Chrome team announced a new feature called Lite Pages that can be activated by flipping on the Data Saver option on an Android device:
Chrome on Android’s Data Saver feature helps by automatically optimizing web pages to make them load faster. When users are facing network or data constraints, Data Saver may reduce data use by up to 90% and load pages two times faster, and by making pages load faster, a larger fraction of pages actually finish loading on slow networks. Now, we are securely extending performance improvements beyond HTTP pages to HTTPS pages and providing direct feedback to the developers who want it.
To show users when a page has been optimized, Chrome now shows in the URL bar that a Lite version of the page is being displayed.
All of this is pretty neat but I think the name Lite Pages is a little confusing as it’s in no way related to AMP and Tim Kadlec makes that clear in his notes about the new feature:
Lite pages are also in no way related to AMP. AMP is a framework you have to build your site in to reap any benefit from. Lite pages are optimizations and interventions that get applied to your current site. Google’s servers are still involved, by as a proxy service forwarding the initial request along. Your URL’s aren’t tampered with in any way.
But wait! What kind of optimizations does a Lite Page make and how do they affect our sites? So far, it can disable scripts, replace images with placeholders and stop the loading of certain resources, although this is all subject to change in the future, I guess.
The optimizations only take effect when the loading experience for users is particularly bad, as the announcement blog post states:
…they are applied when the network’s effective connection type is “2G” or “slow-2G,” or when Chrome estimates the page load will take more than 5 seconds to reach first contentful paint given current network conditions and device capabilities.
It’s probably important to remember that the reason why Google is doing this isn’t to break our designs or mess with our websites — they’re doing this because there are serious performance concerns with the web, and those concerns aren’t limited to developing nations.