Have you ever wondered why we pay so much money for in-flight WiFi access and still get modem-like speeds? We’re not getting into those reasons for now, but we are going to showcase a simple Google Chrome extension that will instantly speed up your browsing experience when you’re using in-flight WiFi. It’s called ScaleUp.

The developers of ScaleUp have done a brilliant thing. The reason webpages take so long to load is because of imagery and other non-text content. To circumvent that problem, they simply upsize all the images on the page that’s loading, and increase the font size a little bit.

How Does That Help? Won’t That Make Page Load Times Even Slower?

What ScaleUp says is that by increasing the size of the content, a lot of it gets pushed down below the fold, meaning below the visible part of the page that’s on your screen. By doing that, there’s less to load on the visible part of the page. That means your browser can work faster to render the content.

To test this out, ScaleUp did a demo with a page from CNN’s website. Under normal circumstances, the page took around 80 seconds to fully load using in-flight WiFi. With the ScaleUp Google Chrome extension turned on, it took just 20 seconds – that’s 4 times faster!

Who Developed this Chrome Extension?

ScaleUp was developed by a team of students from Northwestern University, headed by Fabián Bustamante, professor of computer science at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering.

ScaleUp achieves this text re-sizing by asking the browser to disregard the code that requests for various fonts required to load the page. In doing so, the browser defaults to the font that is usually displayed when the requested fonts are not available.

While it makes the page look a little less pleasing than the page’s designed intended, it does the job you want it to do – load the page up to four times faster than without the ScaleUp extension.

To achieve this, the extension collects information, but only about network speeds and page loading times, not information about the sites you visit and so on.

You can get the Google Chrome extension for free from the Chrome Web Store.

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