Google Says Chrome Should Eat Up Less Battery Life on MacBooks

The company claims users can browse for 17 hours straight on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, though the latest Macs are already known for their extreme battery life.

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A 13 inch MacBook Pro with the Gizmodo website which should be running more efficently on Chrome
The M2-powered MacBook Pro should soon be running a bit more efficiently with a new update from Google.
Photo: Philip Tracy/Gizmodo

Google has a new “under the hood” update rolling out that should give Apple laptop users a small boost in battery life for even longer marathon browsing or streaming. Google shared its wide array of optimizations with Gizmodo over email, which included in-house benchmarks using the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The company used its own open-source benchmark suite to run its tests on the latest version of Chrome and the latest version of MacOS Ventura. Overall, Google’s tests found users could browse continuously for 17 hours or watch YouTube videos for 18 hours on the M2-powered MacBook. As with any benchmarks coming straight from a company, take these with a grain of salt.

It should be noted that in Gizmodo’s own review, the M2-powered MacBook already scored pretty high on battery life. Our estimates put the 13-inch MacBook Pro at just under 16 hours during stress tests, including ones focused on watching YouTube videos via Safari. Our review of the latest 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros showed that, when playing a 24-hour video continuously, the device already lasted nearly 17 hours before shutdown.

Though the updates were focused on the latest versions of the MacBook, the team also ran additional benchmarks on a 2020 Intel-supported MacBook Air and a 2020 M1-powered MacBook Air. The company did not offer specific numbers for power savings on earlier MacBook models, but said the improvements in battery life were similar across devices.


What Kinds of Improvements Did Google Make to Chrome on Mac?

The company made a few tweaks to memory usage and timers to limit power draw on MacBooks. Google researchers said they altered the amount of times the CPU needs to fire up when accessing old timey Javascript timers on older webpages. Google has long been working on making changes to Javascript timer wake-ups when running on Apple devices.

Google said it modified when Chrome forces the CPU to wake up when triggered by Javascript Timers.
Google said it modified when Chrome forces the CPU to wake up when triggered by Javascript Timers.
Graphic: Google

There’s also additional fine-tuning of when the system needs to use short-term memory or when it routinely accesses the same data structures. The team also said it modified Chrome to cut down on any unneeded steps when triggered by Document Object Models that don’t actually change any pixels on the screen.

The optimizations have been released to “a tiny fraction” of Chrome users, but the company said the update should hit all MacBook users this week. The company promised even more updates to power consumption in 2023 and after.