Fake Progress Bars

A trend in mobile browsers (and mobile apps in general) that has bugged me for several years is the use of fake progress bars. Those little bars that load from left to right to show you how much of your page is loaded.

The problem is they are 100% fake bullshit. They show nothing. They are just programmed to move at a set rate to tell you the app is doing something. Even if there is no data transferred at all (you can confirm this by configuring an upstream firewall to drop all packets) it will still go about 3/4 of the way across and then slow to a crawl and stop.

Its just to placate you, to assure you the app “doing something” even though its doing nothing productive (much like most politicians these days)

Oddly this trend only seems to have infected mobile apps, desktop applications still use an Internet Explorer-esque rotating icon or pinwheel, to indicate that the program is working, but giving no illusion of progress (or lack thereof) being made

The reason is that such progress bars are impossible with the current internet protocol. The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) has no way of transmitting data on the total size of a page, so your browser has no way of knowing how much of a page has been loaded until its all fully loaded

3 thoughts on “Fake Progress Bars”

  1. Interesting, I’ve never really paid attention to the bars because they seemed to be useless graphics meant to distract. My favorite all time was the old school hour glass spinner.

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