Interactive Screenshots are Used by Chrome to Speed up Websites

Chrome now employs interactive images and a feature called Freeze Dried Tabs to speed up websites by up to 20%. When things are changing, like when starting up from scratch, new technology is utilized.
SIA Team
September 15, 2022

Due to the numerous components that need to load, such as the raw HTML, CSS, JavaScrip, and fonts, webpages take a long time to load, Chrome displays interactive screenshots.

Google unveiled a new Chrome feature that produces interactive screenshots of webpages to speed up user interaction. Freeze Dried Tabs is what Chrome calls it, and it’s currently in use.

Google’s actions go beyond simple screenshot replacements. Because links can be clicked and it can be scrolled, it is more like a hybrid screenshot. Google effortlessly switches to the actual webpage after the actual page has finished downloading.

“To Freeze Dry a web page we capture the visual state of the page as a set of vector graphics along with any hyperlinks. We can then “reconstitute” (playback) these vector graphics in a lighter-weight fashion by simply rastering the vector graphics. This reduces the rendering cost of showing a full web page (including the content outside the viewport) and still supports hyperlinks,” Calder Kitagawa, Chrome Software Engineer, said in her latest blog post on September 15, 2022.

They said the goal is to speed up website visitors’ web experiences by displaying a screenshot of a page with clickable links and scrollable text.

“Testing has shown that by using a Freeze Dried Tab we can speed up the median time taken to draw all the content of the page to just 2.8s from launch (~20% faster compared to starting to draw normally). Since all the content is there and there’s often no layout shift, it feels even faster!” Kitagawa said.

Freeze Dried Tabs are now being used in Chrome to give Android cold starting a 20% observable speedup.