Google is once again using Chrome to drive small changes to web standards in its obsession with speeding up the user experience.

This time Chrome has become the first browser to tweak the SSL/TLS protocol that underpins encrypted https connections to make them run a bit faster with something called ‘SSL False Start’.

SSL is used by a small but hugely important number of websites to open secure connections for things such as payments. It turns out, however, that it ‘wastes’ a tiny amount of time with every page request where the two ends of the connection signal that the page exchange has ended.

This only takes up an imperceptible 80ms per page but many pages reference ‘critical path’ dependent pages so that adds up to as much as 250ms to access a single web page using https/SSL. False Start eliminates this, reducing page access times by small amounts that start to add up across the web as a whole.The idea has been even put to the IETF by Google as a revision of SSL/TLS.

One problem is that implementing the tweak breaks a small but unknown number of websites, currently exceeding 5,000. That’s one reason why Mozilla has been testing out the feature but has yet, unlike Google, to commit to include it in Firefox version 4.0.

Not everyone agrees on whether such things matter - if a good idea breaks a website then perhaps the website should change says Google - and some quesiton whether the reported benefits justify this hardline approach.

SSL False Start is reminiscent of two other recent developments from Google, the WebP image format replacement for jpg, and Google Instant, the automatic search results feature.

All these developments will really benefit mobile users who happen to use Chrome - the battle will be getting such developments beyond that browser and to the millions of websites that Google would like embrace its prodigious love of speed.