Feb 7, 2012
Google Chrome is finally on Android.. A beta version of Chrome for Android has launched for Ice Cream Sandwich devices on the Android Market. This is an official version of Chrome, Google’s WebKit-based desktop browser that has yet to be integrated as part of their Android browser. This may be the first step in that direction.
Experienceâ€“wise, it is impressively similar to the desktop version. Fonts and websites render similarly, and performance is generally snappy. However, vertical scrolling appears to be the app’s general weakness at this point â€“ it’s rather choppy, and something that likely is part of the ‘beta’ distinction.
The browser supports both phones and tablets on ICS. Tablets get an interface more akin to the desktop experience, with the familiar tab bar at top.Private browsing is also available, with the ability to switch between the regular set of tabs and Chrome‘s “Incognito” tabs with a tap of the icon in the upper right corner of the screen. Cross-device synchronization is a big strength of Chrome for Android, as it can not only synchronize bookmarks across devices, but also look up URLs from the same history as the desktop version, access tabs that were pulled up in the desktop version of Chrome. It appears as if this synchronization is one way only at this point, and there’s no way for desktop Chrome to pull up that same info from mobile devices. There’s also no way to change the user agent or to request a desktop site, something the official broswer has. This is an issue particularly on Android tablets, because there is no browser user agent distinction between Android phones and tablets, so tablets often are served the version of the site for phones.
The problem right now with Chrome for Android is that it’s only available for Ice Cream Sandwich users. With the total nuumber of Android devices running ICS apparently at 1% (something that headline makers have noticed and picked up on, with the 99%/1% distinction being part of the Occupy movement), this means that Chrome for Android won’t be the primary browsing experience any time soon. But, as new Android devices launch with ICS, and as current devices begin to see ICS, the time for Chrome to take over may be soon, as the project continues advancing. Chrome for Android Beta is available now from the Android Market.