Microsoft has devised a method for improving the web searching on mobile handsets that could result in faster browsing for users and better battery performance.
The system, dubbed PocketWeb, aims to predict which web addresses a user is likely to visit and then pre-fetch the data, enabling phones to deliver faster results and conserve battery life.
The researchers, led by Dimitrios Lymberopoulos, from Microsoft's sensing and energy research group, used the mobile web access logs of 8,000 Bing users to profile their browsing patterns.
Users were also categorised in to groups, depending on the amount of browsing they did on their mobile device, which included users of iPhone, BlackBerrys and Android handsets as well as feature phones.
Analysis of these logs showed that frequently, users' pattern of activity was easy to characterise, making is possible to pre-fetch data even for dynamic web pages.
The data showed that users typically visit a small number of websites very often and a larger number far less frequently. Around 80 per cent of the URLs visited by smartphone users were repeat visits for half the smartphone users surveyed.
Furthermore, the time of day and current activity also helped predict whether a user was likely to be visiting a familiar page or a new destination.
The researchers found that users go through bursts of visiting new web pages, so it made no sense for their system to prefetch data when it detected users were engaged in random browsing.
“For about 80-90 per cent of the users we can accurately prefetch 60 per cent of the URLs within two minutes before the request,” the researchers said.
Having been satisfied that the pre-fetching of data could dramatically improve browsing times, the Microsoft team then evaluated what impact this had on battery life.
According to their analysis of the total radio energy dissipation due to web access, the team discovered that pre-fetching information would either use the same or less energy in up to 98 per cent of cases.
"By predicting users’ web accesses, we can provide a faster web browsing experience, with the same or lower radio energy dissipation,” the researchers claimed.
PocketWeb was presented at the Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems in London on Monday.
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