The good news for those of you running Ice Cream Sandwich is that Chrome for Android Beta was launched, nearly 4 years after Google’s initial release of their desktop Chrome browser.
This mobile version promises a focus on speed and simplicity while offering “seamless sign-in and sync so you can take your personalized web browsing experience with you wherever you go, across devices.”
While the iCloud can offer you bookmarks synced across all of your devices, Chrome for Android will actually keep tabs on all of your tabs –walk away from your desktop and the very same windows will be waiting for you on your Android tablet or smartphone (oh, and it does that bookmark thing too). Google even took it one step further. Once you are logged in on each device, your auto-complete suggestions will even persist saving you typing as much as the frustration of trying to remember things from past browsing sessions.
Other features of Chrome for Android make the design ideal for mobile devices. Link preview should help you to select your link from the virtual crowd by eliminating the “hunting and pecking for links on a web page by automatically zooming in on links to make selecting the precise one easier.” Privacy concerns are also front and center with this new browser, offering a number of user-configurable options as well as “incognito mode” that allow you to surf anonymously.
Other promises remain to be seen (and tried). Google claims that Chrome for Android will be more intuitive and the gestures more natural for browsing on a small screen. The more you swipe, the better you will feel as you avoid trying to tap, tap, tap your way to the proper place.
These new features are significant upgrades over the mobile version of Chrome offering core advantages like GPU acceleration and support for more HTML 5 elements; but don’t expect web apps, extensions or Flash Player to be working just yet (or ever, in the case of Flash).
Google has indicated that Chrome for Android will eventually become the stock browser on all builds of Android (above version 4, which is currently only run by 1% of users) as long as they are coming from OEM or Launch Partners. Those manufacturers taking advantage of the Open Source licensing (like Amazon chose to do with the Kindle Fire) will not be included –the upside is being able to brand their devices without including Google Apps and Google will also become the downside because you can’t pick and choose what’s included, it’s all or nothing.
For those of you unaware, Chrome is built using several pieces of open source software, including WebKit, a layout engine designed to allow web browsers to do their job by rendering web pages– the very same foundation used by Apple for Safari. Even more than that, WebKit has been developed and maintained as part of a group development effort led by Apple; a fact that I am sure brings a small smile across more than a few faces… along with a little concern, because if the features of Chrome for Android work anywhere near as well as advertised, Apple is going to need to step up.