Chrome for Android in beta impresses


Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) unveiled a long-awaited beta version of Chrome for Android this week, promising a speedier and sleeker replacement for the existing Android browser. The idea is to make web browsing on a smartphone as fun and easy as on a non-mobile device, and the excitement level around the web is palpable.

"If you have one of the few Android devices currently running Ice Cream Sandwich, then you're going to love this post. The rest of you, including those of you on iOS, will have to gaze longingly for a while," writes Jason Kinkaid at TechCrunch. "It's faster. It syncs everything (provided you want it to). It has nifty transition effects and a more intuitive system for jumping between tabs. And it's also loaded with potential."

The beta version of Chrome for Android works only with the Ice Cream Sandwich platform, but eventually it is slated to be the default browser for all Android-powered devices. It includes many features of the desktop version, such as allowing users to sync with a logged-in desktop version of the browser in order to automatically bring along any open tabs. It does not include support for plug-ins or Flash, but this is not dampening enthusiasm for the launch.

One of the features that has Kinkaid excited is the user interface. It feels more polished, offers tabs that slide in and fade out, and displays a stack of open tabs that gives users a better glimpse of content, he reports. It also comes with a magnifying pane that helps users figure out what exactly they're trying to open.

The synchronizing support feature is also remarkable, Kinkaid writes. "Open up Chrome on your phone, and you can see a list of all of the tabs you currently have open on your computer's copy of Chrome, which is awesome if you're frequently having to email yourself directions or links to various product reviews. Better yet, this works even if you've shut the lid on your laptop and it's in 'sleep mode'--though if you exit out of the browser entirely, the list will go blank."

MG Siegler at Parislemon calls Chrome for Android a browser "for the 1%" because it is only compatible at this stage with Ice Cream Sandwich. "If you happen to be one of the few out there with Ice Cream Sandwich, Chrome for Android is a must-download right now. Again, it's beta, but it's already pretty slick," he writes.

The big events, in Siegler's view, are the sync feature and elements in the user interface, which are "fantastic (and smooth!)," he writes. "I have no doubt that like the original version of Chrome, Chrome for Android is going to push all browsers forward. Simply put: the Chrome team has done an excellent job turning the concept of multiple tabs into a beautiful and responsive interface for browsing on a phone. "

For more:
- see the Google blog post
- see Jason Kinkaid's post at TechCrunch
- see MG Siegler's post at Parislemon

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