Chrome for Android now eats more RAM because it is more secure

Chrome for Android
Chrome for Android (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Chrome for Android version 77 enhances Site Isolation by automatically updating it for sites that require logins.
  • Site Isolation keeps websites from talking to or sharing information with each other, preventing malicious websites from stealing your info.
  • The downside to this more secure method of computing is that Chrome will now consume more RAM than before.

You might expect kids to play in a sandbox, but did you know that apps and websites can, too? A new Chrome for Android update is bringing about a new feature that places websites in their own sandbox and doesn't allow them to interact with each other. This behavior will be automatically activated on websites that request any kind of login to access and will be enabled on these websites going forward.

Chrome for Android version 77 adds this new feature for many users but, like most updates from Google, all users won't see it happen immediately. Given the drastic nature of the update, there's always a possibility that this could break functionality with websites that are intending to talk to one another, but shouldn't be a pronounced problem since this feature has been tested in Chrome Beta and Chrome Canary up until now.

Isolating sites in their own sandbox means that sites only have access to whatever information Chrome feeds them and cannot move outside of that context. This prevents malicious websites from taking over others, particularly from stealing login info or other sensitive data, as websites can no longer converse with each other and share information via your phone's web browser.

The side effect of this new behavior is that each website requires its own sandbox which, if you can imagine a bunch of actual sandboxes in someone's back yard, means they take up a lot more space on the phone. That means that Chrome's already meme-worthy RAM usage will be a bit higher than it has in the past, but it's all being done for the sake of secure computing. As such, this feature will only be automatically enabled on phones with more than 2GB of RAM.

If this feature sounds familiar, that's because it's already enabled on Chrome for Desktop and enables the feature by default for all websites. On the mobile version, this feature will only be automatically enabled for sites that require users to log into.

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Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu