Chrome goes to great lengths to be the fastest browser available. And is trying to fix a problem which is a direct result of being really fast.

White flash

In the competitive market of internet browsers, the fastest browser usually wins. Naturally so, because watching a page slowly load is just as frustrating as it was 20 years ago with dial-up modems. But gaining great speed comes with consequences. One of the most noticeable is the way Google quickly shows you an empty page that rapidly gets filled with all the loaded elements. But for a split second, this blank page generates a white and sometimes blinding flash. Especially annoying when you’re browsing in bed.

How does it work?

The flash is created within the way Google uses JavaScript coding. It happens when you browse to a new page. Or when you get redirected to a page you haven’t visited before. Because your device has no pre-loaded data in its memory (cache), Chrome quickly tries to load all the individual pieces and elements that build the page. Depending on how the website is built, Chrome tries to show you every piece of the website it has loaded. In a lot of cases, this is a small bit of text of just framework of a website. Chrome shows you those small elements even before the styling of the website is loaded, resulting in a white flash. This is a short flash because Chrome is a powerful browser that uses a lot of calculating power to give you a fast experience.

How about other browsers?

Of course, this isn’t the only reason why Chrome is fast. But quickly loading a blank page is a design choice that other browsers didn’t make. Mozilla Firefox is also a fast browser that already ‘fixed’ this problem by fully loading a webpage before showing it to you. While trying to gain some speed in other area’s. Firefox also states its 30% lighter than Chrome and can match the speed Chrome has. This is true for a lot of websites, but larger and heavier websites are loaded faster in Chrome than Firefox.

Another fast option is Opera. A lightweight and small browser. It’s not really fast compared to the big brothers like Firefox and Chrome. But it comes with a ‘Turbo mode’ that routes data through Opera’s servers to compress a website and get it to your device faster. This is especially handy when browsing on a mobile device, with less calculating power than a buffed up desktop.

Person holding a phone with the Firefox, Chrome and Opera logo's

The solution?

Google figured out that showing an empty page isn’t very neat. And its working on a solution described on developers site Chromium Bugs and in this featured document. It looks like Chrome is switching to a new design that waits with showing you a page until its fully loaded. Or showing a time-out if the page takes to long to load. Thus getting rid of the white flash. A logical choice, given that Google is overhauling more apps to create a better experience with features like Dark Mode.

Google says the change’s main goal is to make the switch between two web pages a more pleasant experience.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here