Yesterday was a monumental occasion for Android ICS users – Google finally released the Beta for Chrome for Android mobiles. Now we’re finally seeing where Chrome on the browser was going – integration to Google services and an Opera Mini-like cross-platform sharing service to make sure all your bookmarks are where you expect them to be.
Based off the desktop version of Chrome, the mobile version is just as fast and fully-featured, but also just as buggy. While the same plugins for the desktop version should work on the mobile application, not everything has been made compatible for the new browser. What does work flawlessly so far is the integrated Google services, syncing bookmarks, history and login details from your desktop account created when Chrome 16 launched.
It bears mentioning that the performance from the beta browser isn’t as strong as Firefox, Opera Mobile or Dolphin HD. In many benchmarks it shows its beta status and there’s definitely a lot of potential here. What’s interesting is whether or not Chrome will ship with new ICS devices once it’s a little more stable – will there be a possibility of an anti-trust suit brought against the search giant? After all, the Chrome brand is now very big and on Android devices will edge out the competition as the browser matures and it’s essentially the same thing Microsoft was fined for doing. But anyway, onto other things.
Where Chrome mobile wins is integration and cross-platform sharing. When you first launch Chrome it’ll ask you to sign into your Google account. After doing that, all of your bookmarks and open tabs are automatically synced. Opening a new tab not only offers you quick access to your most frequently visited sites, recently closed tabs and bookmarks (just like the desktop version), but also any tabs you might still have open on another machine. The biggest draw is the tab sync – open the NAG forums at work on a specific thread, go on lunch and open Chrome Mobile and you’ll still be replying to that thread, even though you’re on a different device.
There’s also swipe gestures for switching between tabs, accelerometer control, 3D animations for page flips and turns and its very well integrated into ICS. What Google has accomplished is nothing short of impressive and all that remains to be seen is whether ICS users will be able to entice new customers to the platform.