It's not strictly true: only Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich phones or tablets in certain territories are able to install Chrome in its beta form, but those who can, should. It's free, after all. It seems a little odd to us that Chrome is being launched as a separate product to the Android Browser, especially when many of the synching features that Chrome brings to mobile web surfing are present in Ice Cream Sandwich's native browser. In summation, Chrome for Android feels like a rebranded upgrade to the Android Browser, rather than an entirely new entity. But it's none the worse for that. See also Group test: what's the best Android phone.
We love the desktop Google Chrome web browser, and Chrome for Android has a similarly pared-down look and feel. We've never had any speed problems with Android's native browser, but Chrome certainly feels rapid both in terms of response when you are scrolling, clicking and switching tabs, and page load when you are browsing. Again, the difference is especially noticeable in pre-ICS devices (about which you can do nothing, right now, given that Chrome is not compatible). Download Chrome for Android here.
When searching the web with Chrome for Android, top results load in the background as you type so pages appear instantly, much like desktop Chrome. In its release notes Google makes a virtue of the fact that search and navigation can be accessed directly from the Chrome 'Omnibox' (or address bar, to you and I). But that is also the case with the Android Browser. Chrome is certainly slicker and nicer to look at, however. See also: Best Android Apps.
We like the way multiple tabs fit on to your smartphone's small screen. You can flip or swipe between an unlimited number of tabs in a way that feels a lot more intuitive than on other mobile browsers. This will be a bigger deal to Android phone users than to those with Android tablets, of course, but would be enough on its own for us on its own to make the shift to Chrome for Android.
Link Preview is our favourite feature. A small icon next to search results lets you view images of potential destinations, even if they do not directly relate to the URL of the search answer to your query. A good example is a search for 'PC Advisor' (always a good idea). Google returns the usual techadvisor.co.uk link, but in Chrome for Android you can click the preview link and see images of both our mobile and main websites, as well as digital magazines on iTunes and Zinio, and PC Advisor pages on Twitter and Facebook.
It's the way humans search, and it makes hunting the web on a small screen much more intuitive and fun. Chrome for Android includes all the private browsing and privacy options that desktop Chrome does. An important facet of modern mobile life, where transactions are common and money can be lost.
Chrome for Android: desktop synch
More interesting for long-term Chrome users is Chrome for Android's seemless integration with its big brother on your laptop, PC or Mac. Chrome for Android's killer app - or apps - is the way it synchronises seamlessly with your desktop browser. Using Chrome on your Android phone or tablet becomes an extension of the browsing you do on your PC or laptop, in much the same way that Android at its best is an extension of using all Google tools.
Sign in to Chrome and you can view tabs you left open on your computer - so long as you are signed in to Chrome on your PC or laptop. And if you regularly visit certain sites on your PC, you'll find that Chrome on your Android device autocompletes search queries. More prosaically, but usefully, it syncs bookmarks back and forth between devices so that whichever device you are using if you are signed in you have the same, cutomised experienced.
Chrome is now available in beta from the Android Market, in select countries and languages for phones and tablets with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. As it is a beta, there is no guarantee that Chrome for Android will be stable right now, although in our tests we had no issues with crashes etc. (And you always have your Android Browser to fall back on!)
Visit Android Advisor.
Chrome for Android: Specs
- Google Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
- Google Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
SHOULD I BUY CHROME FOR ANDROID?
An extension of the Google Chrome browser for Windows, Mac and Linux, Chrome for Android is fast and simple. More importantly, it is designed from the ground up for mobile use, and it shows. And because it synchs seemlessly with your desktop browser, it makes the mobile experience exponentially more satisfying. And it's free. What's not to like? Well, we're a little confused as to why this is a separate product, and not just a rebranded upgrade for all Android browsers.