In the Android Chrome browser, Google Search has a natural advantage in the search engine competition. This is not only because Google Search is Chrome’s default search engine, but it is also optimized for performance specifically for Google Search. Programmer Daniel Aleksandersen recently explored the source code of the Chromium project and found that this is unfair to other search engines.
The Chromium project is jointly developed by Google, other companies, and individual contributors, but the entire project is managed and controlled by Google. While exploring other things, Aleksandersen accidentally discovered the PreconnectToSearch function in the code. After this feature is enabled, it will be opened in advance and will remain connected to the default search engine.
The pre-connection function will resolve the domain name, and negotiate and set up a secure connection with the server. All these things take time, and they must happen before the search engine can receive the user’s search query. Preempting these steps can save ten seconds on slow network connections and half a second on fast connections.
This optimization can bring good performance improvements to Google’s customers. Of course, the premise is that the connection requires only negligible processing power and network bandwidth. If the user does not plan to search the web, setting up the connection in advance may cause the waste or slow down the loading speed of other web pages.
However, there is a small problem with this feature, that is, Chromium will check the default search engine settings and only enable this feature when it is set to Google Search. This preferential treatment means that no other search engine can compete with Google search in the time it takes to load search results. Each competitor must wait until users start typing search queries before Chrome will establish a connection.
Compared with competitors without pre-connections, this feature gives Google Search an 80% lead in providing search results. The Chromium changelog for the relevant code illuminates some reasons why the feature works this way. The following comment is accompanied by a comment that restricts the feature to work only on Google domains: “This feature allows us to experiment on Google without the possibility of causing problems with non-Google DSE. This will hopefully prevent problems or regressions with other search engines “.
Google is concerned that other search engines may not be able to cope with the increase in the number of connections caused by this feature. This is a legitimate concern. An unexpected increase in the number of connections may overwhelm unprepared recipients. This potential problem cannot change the fact that Google gives itself an unfair competitive advantage.
If they want, Chromium can solve this problem in a better way. Other search engines can choose to join or opt-out by expanding their OpenSearch Descriptions (OSD). OSD is a configuration file provided by search engines to web browsers, telling them how to set them as search providers in the browser. Chrome can also use the Well-Known URI (RFC 5785) to query the search engine whether to opt-in or quit the pre-connection.
Brian is the news author at Research Snipers which mainly covers Technology News, Microsoft News, Google News, Facebook, Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi, and other tech news.