Google Chrome for Android Beta has finally been released – three long years after Google’s wonder-browser landed on desktops. The long-awaited mobile version promises complete integration between devices and the same super-slick functionality we’ve come to expect from the Chrome experience.
Google claims that much of the wait has been because it didn’t want this to be “Chrome Lite”, so it’s been built from the ground up for mobile use. And when you first load it up you’ll notice some sweet design touches that bring it to life in the mobile environment.
Tabbed browsing is always an issue on mobiles – managing multiple content on smaller screens can be a challenge, but it’s one that Chrome rises to admirably. Tabs slide in and out of existence pleasingly and when open you can flick through multiple tabs by swiping to the left or to the right.
An “all tabs” button lets you see at a glance all the content that you have open at one time by pulling them up as a deck that you can shuffle through.
Another sweet feature for mobiles is that if you’re viewing a particularly link-heavy piece of text, you’ll get a magnified preview of it, so it’s great for the fat of finger.
Our favourite feature however is synced browsing. If you already use Chrome as your primary browser on your laptop or desktop then your bookmark and browsing information will magically appear on your mobile in its own folder.
And, of course, Google’s USP “Omnibox” is all over this, predicting your searches (from desktop browsing too) and loading in the background so that results are rendered in super-quick time. In fact, Chrome for Android is impressively fast overall.
Other points to note is that there is support for Web Workers, which allows web apps to be updated in real time, but there is no support for Flash, plug-ins or extensions right now.
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The Bottom Line
This is a massively welcome albeit long-overdue release that is beautifully realised and seamlessly integrated. BUT it’s a crying shame that only a tiny fraction of Android users can benefit at present.
Version reviewed Beta
Requirements Android 4.0
Download Google Chrome Beta here
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