Chrome for Android: The reaction

There's a new browser for Ice Cream Sandwich handsets, but how does it stack up?
Adam Smith

February 9, 2012
Android Ice Cream Sandwich

You’re unlikely to have missed the fact that this week, Google has pushed out a beta of the Chrome for Android browser.

This means that Android tablet and smartphone users can be officially Chromed up for surfing the mobile web, albeit a small percentage of them – as you need Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) which is only available on the very latest handsets.

Of course, that will change as manufacturers and networks sort ICS for their devices over the coming months. Or some of them do, anyway.

Chrome for desktop has been making great strides over the past year, and is poised to overtake Firefox as the number two browser within the next couple of months (or that has already happened, depending on which browser stats firm you believe).

And obviously it’s Google’s hope it can do the same in the mobile world – with the obvious potential to very quickly spread once ICS becomes more common.

But what has the early reaction to the new mobile Chrome been like? Given that this is still a beta version.

One of the major strengths that many are pointing to is the fact that Chrome offers full-on tabbed browsing, and syncs your tabs, bookmarks and user information (for auto-suggestions) from computer to mobile, across all devices in fact, which is pretty neat.

There’s also an “incognito” mode to hide your browsing history from those who might pick up your phone and pry into your Chrome web trail.

Better integration with other Google services such as Gmail and YouTube is a given, along with improved page layouts over the stock Android browser. Tech site Gigaom noted larger more readable text, with better use of the space on a web page.

So there’s certainly plenty to like, but some users aren’t happy on one major point – there’s no Flash support.

That’s because Flash for mobile is on its way out, but the problem being that many sites are still using Flash on today’s web.

Adobe has ceased development on Flash for mobile, and although Google could take up the baton and tinker with Flash itself, it’s unclear whether that will happen with the final version of Chrome for Android.

If you’ve got ICS on your Android device, however, the new browser is definitely worth a spin.


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