If you ever look through Settings > Storage on your Android phone, you’ll notice that most mobile browsers are memory hogs. And the Chrome browser is among the worst when it comes to this type of behavior. Unfortunately, a new update to Chrome for Android is going to make its memory grabbing tendencies even worse. But according to Android Authority, there is actually a good reason for Google’s mobile browser to suck up 3% to 5% more of your handset’s resources after the update.
The update to the Android version of the Chrome browser will make it more secure by adding improvements to a feature called Site Isolation. In a nutshell, this keeps different websites away from each other to prevent a malicious website from doing its thing and stealing data or corrupting another site. While Chrome on the desktop does this all of the time, offering this on an Android phone would be too taxing to the handset (especially those on the low-end of the smartphone spectrum). On an Android phone, Site Isolation is enabled only when a user is visiting a website that requires a password to log in. Once you sign in to this website, Site Isolation will be activated; Chrome will remember this so that the next time you visit this page, Site Isolation will be activated immediately.
Site Isolation is available on Chrome 77 or Android phones with at least 2GB of RAM (which covers most Android handsets these days). And since it appears that Google is doing some A/B testing, the feature might not be found on a small number of Android phones with Chrome 77 installed. If you need the latest stable version of Chrome on your Android phone, you can install it from the Google Play Store by tapping right here. The beta version of Chrome is currently running version 78 and can also be installed from the Play Store by clicking on this link. The beta version will give you the ability to test out new features and capabilities before Google decides whether to add them to the stable version of the app. And if you want in on the ground floor of new ideas, you can install the Chrome Canary app. Google warns that this is an unstable version of the browser and is suggested for developers and advanced users only. Chrome Canary can also be found in the Google Play Store.
Google says that it is working on optimizing Site Isolation so that it won’t eat up more memory. But until that happens, this is the trade-off you have for more security.