If you are someone who is usually aware of gaming, you may have heard of Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) or Game Mode in your smartphones or laptops or televisions. The feature is basically targeted at people who use their devices for gaming to optimise their network in case of safety. In short, the feature detects when you are playing a game and optimises your device to allow the fastest possible interaction between your fingers or gaming console and your screen.
When you play an online video game using your device, your device is constantly downloading pieces of data to render the game on your device. It downloads these bits of data from the developers’ servers. At the same time, your device is collecting input — your response such as taps, swipes, orientation change — and sending it to the game server, which will respond to your input and send its response as a game input, to provide an interactive gaming experience. Since there is a two-way transmission of data, it takes a slight delay or latency, which is mostly accepted. This delay cannot be removed as it is crucial to the functioning of the game. However, when your device receives the game render, it applies some post-processing to make your viewing experience better, but this post-processing also takes some time, which adds to the latency or lag between the game server and the player’s experience. While the transmission cannot be done away with – although some games offer a lower quality version to reduce the amount of data to be transmitted – the post-processing a smart device imposes can certainly be removed for the sake of performance.
Taking this step lowers the lag or latency in the gaming experience. So, in the Low Latency Mode, a smart device detects when you are playing a game and sends commands to the display to stop the post-processing and work as fast as it can.
The post-processing your screen does is not useless altogether and can significantly enhance your experience while watching cinema, where visual quality matters the most and you would not even notice the lag. But in the bullet-fast landscape of gaming, every millisecond matters.