Google’s Chrome for Android team is experimenting with a new data compression proxy feature to speed up browsing similar to the methods used by Opera Turbo and Amazon Silk. The feature is currently optional but could one day be flipped on by default if Google deems it ready, significantly helping those on slow connections.

Developer and regular Google-watcher François Beaufort first spotted the new feature in a Chromium build released on Friday. For those who don’t know, Chromium is the open source web browser project that shares much of the same code and features as Google Chrome, and new features are often added there first.

Here’s how Google describes the feature: “Reduce data consumption by loading optimized web pages via Google proxy servers.” Using less data could also translate into faster page loads.

For the sake of comparison, here is how Opera describes its Turbo feature:

When Opera Turbo is enabled, webpages are compressed via Opera’s servers so that they use much less data than the originals. This means that there is less to download, so you can see your webpages more quickly.

Here is Amazon detailing Silk:

All of the browser subsystems are present on your Kindle Fire as well as on the AWS cloud computing platform. Each time you load a web page, Silk makes a dynamic decision about which of these subsystems will run locally and which will execute remotely. In short, Amazon Silk extends the boundaries of the browser, coupling the capabilities and interactivity of your local device with the massive computing power, memory, and network connectivity of our cloud.

Google’s implementation would be different in that it would use the company’s SPDY proxy servers. SPDY, which is not an acronym but just a short version for the word “speedy,” is a protocol developed primarily at Google to improve browsing by forcing SSL encryption for all sites and speeding up page loads.

It does the latter via multiplexing (sending multiple streams of data over a single network connection), assigning high or low priorities to page resources being requested from a server, and compressing header information that accompanies communications for resource requests and responses. In other words, it’s part of Google’s broader strategy to speed up the Web.

You can enable the feature, which is still in development, by running the following switch (connect your phone or tablet to your PC, turn on USB Debugging, and use the Android SDK):
adb shell ‘echo “chrome –enable-spdy-proxy-auth” > /data/local/tmp/content-shell-command-line’

We’ll be watching closely as Google develops the feature and whether the company decides to turn it on by default.

See also – Chrome 25 for Android arrives with performance tweaks, background playback, and auto-audio pausing

Image credit: craitza