Google ditches its own protocol for HTTP/2 and a faster web

After using its own protocol for several years to speed up the web, Google is dropping support for it and adopting a standard approach. Next year, Google will abandon SPDY in early 2016 in favor of HTTP/2 according to a blog post published Monday on the company’s Chromium blog.

[company]Google[/company] originally created SPDY — pronounced “speedy” — in 2009, but it’s really no longer needed. That’s because the newer HTTP/2 protocol offers similar speed optimization and will be widely adopted by browsers:

“HTTP/2’s primary changes from HTTP/1.1 focus on improved performance. Some key features such as multiplexing, header compression, prioritization and protocol negotiation evolved from work done in an earlier open, but non-standard protocol named SPDY. Chrome has supported SPDY since Chrome 6, but since most of the benefits are present in HTTP/2, it’s time to say goodbye.”

Google said it will add HTTP/2 support in Chrome 40 over the coming weeks, likely first to the desktop versions of Chrome and Chrome OS, later followed by Chrome for mobile devices. Google added experimental support for SPDY in Chrome for Android back in 2013, which required a configuration tweak for usage. Using the SPDY protocol at that time reduced page load times by 64 percent, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the HTTP/2 implementation can bring.

The goal of reducing page loads was a good one by Google, although it clearly benefits from gaining potentially more data as the population surfs more. But a non-standard approach isn’t ideal as evidenced by different browsers supporting SPDY, while others, such as IE and Safari opting not to do so. Google said it’s glad to see its early efforts — including multiplexing, header compression, prioritization and protocol negotiation — help to shape standards and I agree: With a more universal approach built into HTTP/2, everyone benefits.

This story was updated at 5:15pm PT to clarify a sentence.