Chrome on Android makes back & forth navigation much faster

As Chrome developers, one crucial optimization to achieve an enhanced user experience is leveraging the back/forward cache or bfcache. This browser feature significantly improves navigation speed, especially for users on slower networks or devices.

Bfcache has long been supported in Firefox and Safari across desktop and mobile platforms. In Chrome, Google introduced the support for bfcache in version 86 for Android, initially for a small user base. Subsequent releases expanded this support. Since version 96, bfcache is now enabled for all Chrome users on both desktop and mobile.

Bfcache on Chrome enables faster navigation across pages

The back/forward cache operates as an in-memory storage system, capturing a complete snapshot of a page, including the JavaScript heap, as users navigate away. When users decide to return, the browser can swiftly restore the entire page from memory, creating an instant experience.

Consider the scenario where a user visits a website, clicks a link to another page, and then realizes it’s not what they wanted—clicking the back button. Without bfcache, the browser initiates loading the previous page.

Depending on optimization, the browser might need to re-download, re-parse, and re-execute some or all resources. However, with bfcache enabled, an instant restoration becomes possible, which significantly improves the user experience. The browser loads the previous page instantly, directly from memory without network requests.

This addition to Chrome also reduces your data usage

Bfcache on Chrome reduces data usage since it doesn’t need to download resources again. Chrome usage data (via reveals that 1 in 10 desktop and 1 in 5 mobile navigations involve going back or forward. Enabling bfcache has the potential to eliminate data transfers and loading time for billions of web pages daily.

It’s crucial to note that the “cache” used by bfcache differs from the HTTP cache, which stores responses for previously made requests. The bfcache, being a snapshot of the entire page in memory, ensures faster restoration than even the most optimized non-bfcache navigations.

In conclusion, this new addition to Chrome enhances user experience, making navigation seamless and efficient.