Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, Backed By Google, Promises Faster Pages
Google announces a new open initiative aimed at making pages load more quickly on mobile devices, a counter to moves by Facebook & Apple.
Wouldn’t you like to have stuff you read on mobile devices seem to load instantly? Facebook and Apple sure think so. Now so does Google. Today, Google, along with Twitter and several publishers, announced the Accelerated Mobile Page Project.
That’s AMP, by the way, for short. AMP is a way that publishers can pull from a common library of scripts and other content, and optionally tap into the Google cache, to deliver fast web pages.
Publishers like Vox, The Verge, BuzzFeed and the Washington Post are already live with AMP pages. And if they share such pages on Twitter, Twitter says those pages will load quickly. We even have a cute name that’s developing — Amplified pages.
As for Google, it says there’s a special version that people can use to see AMP-enabled search. You’ll find that here.
If you want to start using AMP pages, you’ll find that information here.
How It Works
Most publishers will likely publish both regular and AMP pages, something that their CMS systems likely will make easy. In fact, WordPress has already announced a plugin to enable publishing in the format.
But wait — isn’t having two copies of the same page a terrible thing from an SEO perspective. Yes, unless you make use of mechanisms like the canonical tag or other ways to indicated which is your main story.
This is all apparently part of AMP. Google hasn’t said there’s anything to worry about and that it apparently will figure out all the right things.
We’ll be revisiting that and diving deeper into the system in a follow-up story soon. Meanwhile, interested in some background about the why behind some of this? Glad you asked.
The Push For Speed
Back in May, Facebook launched Instant Articles, a program with a handful of news publishers designed to make their articles seem to load instantly to people within Facebook. That expanded to more publishers last month.
Meanwhile, Apple’s latest iOS 9 mobile operating system, which came out last month, introduced Apple News, which is designed to load articles super-fast for users of that app.
Google’s Worry Over Walled Gardens
What’s wrong with fast? Well, if you’re Google — which earns a lot of money off people reading content on the Web — it’s worrisome that two chief competitors have programs offering that same Web content at higher speed and without your ads. If you’re Twitter, it’s also worrisome that people may get frustrated trying to read content that seems slow to load in your app, even if it’s more an issue with the sites themselves.
Back to Google, a common strategy whenever the company feels behind in an area is to declare a new open-source effort. Open Social! Open Handsets! And now, a push for an open standard to accelerate the Web.
You can expect some pushback, of course. Facebook and Apple can claim (and do, like this from Facebook) that they both rely on some common standards already, such as RSS (though Apple’s promised Apple News Format will be unique). Both also let publishers run their own ads, if they want, and keep all the revenue from those. By the way, for more about the programs direct from the sources, see this from Facebook on Instant Articles and this from Apple on Apple News.
More To Come & Live Blog
That’s the background. We’ll have more formal information to come (and see our AMP category for ongoing stories). But right now, since the event about this in New York has just ended, I’m off to ask a lot of questions. Below, our live blog of what was discussed: