Meeting the Demands of a Faster Mobile-Based Web

Apple has a new patent aimed at accelerating mobile Web pages. We’ve heard that from others elsewhere on the Web, and it’s beginning to look like a trend. Who wants faster web pages on their phones?

Probably everybody.

Apple Accerated Pages

It’s become increasingly obvious to people doing Search Engine Optimization that improving the quality of websites has meant making pages of a site faster and mobile-device friendly as more people started accessing the internet through phones and tablets as their primary connection to the Web.

Both Google and Yahoo helped site owners by releasing tools that could be used to check upon how fast sites were. Google introduced the online tool Pagespeed for Insights, which details steps that a site owner could take to improve the speed of a site. Yahoo published a browser extension called YSlow that runs a site through a number of tests or Heuristics that measure things that could be changed or improved on a site to make it faster.

These tools were available before there was as much emphasis as there is today on preparing sites for mobile devices. Site speed was the first step, and Google used site speed as a carrot to help rankings, telling us in an official Google Webmasters blog post that they were using site speed in web search rankings. I noticed in 2014 a patent granted to Google that backed that blog post up – Google’s Patent On Site Speed As A Ranking Signal

Google has also gone through two updates, where they have given site owners a lot of warning, that they would increase rankings of sites that were mobile friendly and decrease rankings of site that weren’t. Google provided a Mobile Friendly Test that people could use to make sure that their sites were mobile friendly.

We’ve also seen steps by Facebook and Google to improve the speed of pages on their sites for mobile devices. First Facebook introduced Instant Articles and then Google brought us the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project. Some more recent articles have taken deeper looks at these efforts to provide faster web pages:

You may notice that the focus of those was primarily upon Google’s AMP pages, and how quickly they could get people back to search results and paid search advertisement in those results. However, Apple appears to have an interest in speeding up the Web as well.

Today Apple was granted a patent aimed at making mobile web pages faster. This patent was filed back in 2009, so it likely wasn’t influenced by Facebook’s Instant Articles or Googles’ Accelerated Mobile Pages. Google and Facebook are both attempting to show faster pages so that internet browsers can spend less time on Web pages, and return to advertisements more quickly. Apple seems to be working upon making visiting the Web an overall better experience. The patent does address a problem that was clearly visible back when it was filed, as the patent starts out by describing the problem it was meant to address:

With increasing use of computers to deliver content such as information and entertainment, web pages designed to display such content have become increasingly complicated over time, containing not only text but also animation and videos. Goals of web developers may be to present this content in visually appealing and timely fashion. Accordingly, developers may consider how to create and manage display of such content when designing web pages.

The patent focuses upon using cascading style sheets and browsers that use hardware acceleration of animated page content.

The patent is:

Acceleration of rendering of web-based content
Inventors: Simon Fraser
Assigned to: Apple Inc.
US Patent 9,418,171
Granted: August 16, 2016
Filed: March 3, 2009

Abstract

Systems and methods for hardware accelerated presentation of web pages on mobile computing devices are presented. A plurality of web pages may be received by a computing device capable of processing and displaying web pages using layout engines, hardware accelerated graphics application programming interfaces (APIs).

Upon receipt of the web pages, the web pages may be divided into a plurality of rendering layers, based upon stylesheets of the web pages. An algorithm walks through rendering layers so as to select a plurality of layers that may receive compositing layers so as to take advantage of hardware acceleration when rendered.

The web pages may be subsequently presented on a display of the mobile computing devices using remaining rendering layers and compositing layers. In this manner, visual representation of web content remains intact even when content which may not have been originally designed for use with layout engine may be displayed.

The patent does provide details on how CSS and APIs that focus upon hardware acceleration can speed up web pages, and have them render more quickly. The technology behind what Apple describes in their new patent may be different than the processes behind Facebook and Google’s approaches. but the idea of making web browser a quick and painless experience is similar in all three.

How fast is your Website on a phone?

22 thoughts on “Meeting the Demands of a Faster Mobile-Based Web”

  1. Thanks for sharing this news Bill. It does seem as though trend in mobile optimisation is growing in leaps and bounds. It will be interesting to see which other companies will also follow suit.

  2. Hi Dave,

    I was a little surprised to see this from Apple, but it makes sense after both Google and Facebook came out with faster type pages for the Mobile Web. At this point, we just have a patent from Apple. It will be interesting seeing them come out with their version of Accelerated Mobile Pages. I’m looking forward to it.

  3. Hi Bill Slawski, This sound the days has gone when people have to focus on the desktop to optimize the website. People no more want to stay on a mobile page which takes a time to get the load they want fast experience and quick steps to full fill their requirements. Google also working to provide a great experience for their users by the warning. Thanks for sharing the patent on Google AMP I will keep in touch for more updates on same.

  4. Hi Vikas,

    I still find value in optimizing pages for Desktop usage. Google has emphasized optimizing pages for better mobile experiences because so many people are connecting to the Web with a mobile device as their primary method of connecting to the Web, so theere definitely is a lot of value there.

    We don’t know when Apple will announce their version of accelerated mobile pages, but the patent was just granted this week, so it might take them a little time to decide how best to move forward.

    It’s possible that Apple Amp pages may end up being optimized to work best using a Safari browser, rather than a Chrome Browser – we just don’t know. We may need to wait and see.

  5. How fast is my website on a phone? Not fast enough. Although my standards are impossible – it could probably never be “fast enough” for me. I want it to load instantly! Which is of course impossible, for now at least.

    But how frustrating it is to test your site speed and find that it takes a few seconds to load? I can practically feel my hypothetical frustrated users bouncing back to Google when I watch my site load in those few seconds.

  6. Hi Dylan,

    It can be challenging trying to coax as much speed out of your site as you can. I know I have things on my site that keep it from being as fast as it can be. I suspect people will tolerate some slowness if they perceive that there is value in visiting your pages, and waiting. I suspect that a few seconds latency isn’t costing you a lot of visitors, but I understand the concern.

  7. Recently I came to know about AMP, and experienced it too! AMP optimized sites load like a storm… I couldn’t even notice the screen change. It is a nice initiative.

  8. most of the people are surfing on net so it is very important for us to make our site mobile friendly and as much fast as possible.

  9. @Bill Slawski I am also waiting to see, what changes is going to be done. and why safari? Is it because chrome is Google product 🙂

  10. There is a migration of shopping to mobile has caused advertisers to shift their spending to mobile ads. In 2015, mobile will account for 49 percent of ad spend; in 2016, it will gobble up 60 percent of digital advertising dollars. Mobility solutions companies Mobile apps are developing top apps to keep their clients ahead of the curve.

  11. It will be interesting to see which one is going to be HD-DVD (did anyone actually buy one?) and which will end up being blu-ray. I really can’t see sites implementing FB, Google and Apple versions of faster mobile pages, the development costs will spiral quickly.

  12. Page speed is quite important since that can affect conversions and also play a role in ranking.
    Users are also becoming more and more impatient

  13. Hi Vikas,

    I mentioned Safari as one option for Apple to use to speed up their Accelerated pages because it is an Apple product, and it might lead more people using IOS devices to use Apple software on their Apple devices, having them staying within an Apple ecosystem. It’s also possible that an apple developer could release a WordPress plugin for Publishers to create pages that use Apple’s version of AMP. There seem to be a few different options.

  14. Hi David,

    Many news sources have started publishing articles on Google AMP pages, and eBay has been publishing ecommerce pages that are AMP pages. There is a WordPress AMP plugin that makes it easier for people to turn the pages of their blog into AMP pages. So, it may be a question of the costs of transitioning pages from HTML to AMP; but people have been doing it.

  15. Hi John, Most pages built for Desktop computers are going to be slower in most cases than pages created to be fast and take advantage of AMP pages. In comparison, the AMP pages can seem much more speedy.

  16. We are more than halfway through 2016. How much will mobile advertising grow in 2017 – I suspect enough to make sense to build faster pages for. Then again, most people who go on the Web aren’t going there to look at advertisements, but happen to pass by those in between news and web pages, and searches and visits to apps. It’s in the best interest of Google and Facebook to make those visits to web pages quick ones. It’s in Apple’s best interest to make all experiences on iPhones good ones.

  17. Thanks for sharing this news Bill. It does seem as though trend in mobile optimisation is growing in leaps and bounds. It will be interesting to see which other companies will also follow suit.

  18. You seriously have answers to most of my queries and got it solved to some extent when it comes to mobile page and desktop page. We are adapting to faster loading pages mechanism but sometime I feel being too much responsive often takes good test of web designers. I often get frustrated optimizing ads for mobile and desktop.

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