One of Google’s stated missions is to speed up the web. Over the past few years, Google has been consistently coming up with new stuff to realize this mission. Here’s a quick look at some of the things that Google has released to make web surfing faster:
Google Web Accelerator: Released in 2005, it was perhaps Google’s most misguided effort. It worked through page compression, prefetching of content, and shared caches. Unfortunately, it never really took on, and came under the scanner due to severe privacy risks. This project was shelved in 2008.
Google Chrome: Chrome has probably had the biggest impact in speeding up web browsing. It ignited the speed wars, and has continued to push the boundaries ever since its release. As a result of Chrome, every other modern browser is now striving to offer the absolute best rendering performance possible.
Google Public DNS: Google released its own public DNS servers in 2009 that can often resolve domain names faster than your ISPs DNS server.
Page Speed and Speed Tracer: Google has also released tools that will help web developers ensure that their website is lightweight and breezy. Page Speed and Speed Tracer are Firebug and Chrome extensions respectively that can aid developers in reducing the time required to load their website.
WebP: Google even went so far as to release a new image format that reportedly offers better compression than the other popular existing image formats. Unfortunately, the only two browsers to support WebP at the moment are Chrome and Opera.
SPDY: If you thought releasing a new image format in order to speed up web surfing was rich, wait till you hear this. In 2009, Google released SPDY (pronounced speedy), a new application-layer protocol for transporting content over the web, designed specifically for minimal latency. Currently Google uses SPDY for serving Google Search and Gmail to Chrome users.
Google Page Speed Service: Persisting with its lofty goal of bringing a faster web, earlier today, Google unveiled Page Speed Service. Page Speed Service is a CDN (Content Delivery Network) with a few critical differences. Like typical CDNs, Page Speed Service will fetch content from your servers and store them on Google’s servers, from where they will be served to users. Since Google’s servers are located all around the globe, and are typically extremely fast and reliable, this will increase both performance and availability of the website. Additionally, Google will also rewrite the webpages by applying web performance best practices to further reduce the loading time.
However, often the best and the simplest way to speed up web surfing is to get a faster internet connection. This obvious fact is not lost on Google. Last year it announced a new project whose sole aim is to deliver extremely high speed internet connectivity to residents and community centers. The experimental Google Fiber project vouches to provide 1 Gbps internet connections at competitive rates to selected communities.
Last year, Google picked Kansas City to be the first benefactor of the Google Fiber project after going through over a thousand applications. Now, Google has announced that it is finally ready to begin on-the-ground work that will enable it to begin operations in early 2012.
If you’re in Kansas City in the next few weeks, you may notice a few engineers walking around, consulting maps and surveying your street or neighborhood. These engineers are kicking off the next phase of Google Fiberâ€”detail engineering.
There’s still a lot of work to do before we can offer ultra-high-speed broadband to Kansas City in early 2012.
The average internet speed in US is about 4 Mbps, which is a fair bit lesser than the average internet speed in several parts of Asia and Europe. Google is hoping to make meaningful contribution to the shared goal of delivering faster and better Internet for everyone. To be realistic, the limited reach of the Google Fiber means that it will probably not succeed in achieving anything more than publicity for Google, but then, it’s hard to criticize any mission that tries to make the internet faster.