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Google Releases Chrome For Android Beta 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the support-extensions-please dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Today Google announced the availability of a beta version of its Chrome browser for Android. Unfortunately, it's limited to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) devices. Google is trying to keep Chrome fast and easy to use, and part of that involved redesigning tabs so they work more naturally with touchscreens. 'You can flip or swipe between an unlimited number of tabs using intuitive gestures, as if you're holding a deck of cards in the palm of your hands, each one a new window to the web.' They've also including synchronization functionality that allows you to move from desktop browsing to phone or tablet browsing and pick up right where you left off."
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Google Releases Chrome For Android Beta

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  • by tysonedwards (969693) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @04:14PM (#38958791)
    Didn't Android *always* have Chrome?

    When Google first announced Android, they stated it's web browser was based on WebKit with the V8 JavaScript engine, just like Chrome on the Desktop.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jonnythan (79727)

      Safari is WebKit based.

      Is Safari Chrome?

      A browser is a lot more than an HTML and Javascript engine.

      • by tysonedwards (969693) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @04:28PM (#38959019)
        Chrome = WebKit + V8
        Safari = WebKit + SunSpider
        Konqueror = WebKit + KJS

        So, no... Safari is not Chrome.
        However, do you care to explain what else is necessary to make something a browser besides some UI bits?
        • by SJHillman (1966756) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @04:34PM (#38959103)

          Religious fanaticism. All the browsers have it.

        • by robmv (855035)

          The same sandboxing for a start, Android Webkit is a plain and simple port of Webkit, Chrome is more than that

          • by Anonymous Coward

            The same sandboxing for a start, Android Webkit is a plain and simple port of Webkit, Chrome is more than that

            Unfortunately, Chrome for Android doesn't have sandboxing. Yet.

        • by wootest (694923)

          "SunSpider" is a JavaScript benchmark. Safari's JavaScript engine is called Nitro (formerly SquirrelFish).

        • by jonnythan (79727)

          Those "UI bits" are the important part. Besides "the UI bits" Safari and Chrome are identical except for Javascript engines.

          The UI, memory management, bookmarks, syncing, tab/window handling, password management, addon management, APIs, etc, are all other critical parts of a browser that aren't included in "rendering engine or javascript engine."

        • by unixisc (2429386)

          Konqueror = WebKit + KJS However, do you care to explain what else is necessary to make something a browser besides some UI bits?

          Actually, Konqueror is KHTML. Rekonq is Webkit.

        • by gencha (1020671)
          Compile WebKit and V8 and find out for yourself :)
        • by exomondo (1725132)

          Chrome = WebKit + V8

          So any browser using webkit and v8 is Chrome?

          Safari = WebKit + SunSpider

          No, SunSpider is a benchmark.

          Konqueror = WebKit + KJS

          No, Konqueror is KHTML, not WebKit.

          However, do you care to explain what else is necessary to make something a browser besides some UI bits?

          Networking, UI, Storage, Plug-in Engine (inc. scripting), etc...

    • by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @04:18PM (#38958873)
      Nope. It has (had) a simple browser based on the Webkit API.
    • by avirrey (972127)
      You used two key segments there, "based on" and "just like" which not equal to "equal to".

      --
      X's and O's for all my foes.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @04:20PM (#38958891)

      No, the stock Android browser has never been Chrome. It has a completely different WebKit port, developed independently by a different group, with far worse support for newer web standards; is single-process; has a completely different UI stack (e.g. no omnibox); and doesn't have the same level of data syncing support.

      The stock Android browser could be called "Chrome" only to the same degree that Safari could be called Chrome.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by afidel (530433)
        It also lacks extension support. I can't wait till the Android browser syncs my Chrome bookmarks, passwords, history, and extensions. That will make for a lot less typing on the phone and I can drop the stupid GBookmark app which only exists because Google can't integrate their own services.
        • by jsh1972 (1095519)

          As soon as I saw this article, I downloaded it on my touchpad running cm9 ICS alpha, as soon as I opened it and signed in on the welcome page, all my open tabs on the computer opened on my tablet. This is awesome!

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Then you're doing it wrong - Android browser already syncs Chrome bookmarks...

          • by afidel (530433)
            Really? How? I don't think there would be a half dozen apps for syncing Chrome bookmarks to Android devices if it was native functionality and I sure as heck don't see any results on the first five pages of a google search for "chrome bookmark sync Android" that involve native tools or options....
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by tysonedwards (969693)

        with far worse support for newer web standards

        Gingerbread's Web Browser also gets 100 on the Acid3 test.

        is single-process

        Chrome for Android also is single-process.

        has a completely different UI stack

        Different platforms *have* different UI stacks... As does Chrome for Android in comparison to Android as well as Chrome for Windows, Mac and Linux as stated in TFA.

        doesn't have the same level of data syncing support.

        Yes, this seems to be the only *real* distinction between Chrome and Android's Web Browser.

        The stock Android browser could be called "Chrome" only to the same degree that Safari could be called Chrome.

        Chrome and Safari are pretty different, as they are WebKit + very different stuff.
        Chrome and Android's web browser are both WebKit + V8, in which there was

        • by Calos (2281322) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @06:33PM (#38960535)

          Gingerbread's Web Browser also gets 100 on the Acid3 test.

          That 100 isn't the whole story, if the rendering isn't also correct.

          Acid3 is also a cherry-picked group of tests, some of which are still drafts, some of which have no real use in standard practice.

          AND... most importantly, here - it doesn't test HTML 5. That's one of the big things Google is pushing with Chrome for Android, hardware-accelerated HTML 5 rendering and support.

          (This could be related to the ICS requirement - GPU acceleration of UI elements)

          Chrome for Android also is single-process.

          Do you have a source? TFA says otherwise, official docs [google.com] say otherwise.

          Yes, this seems to be the only *real* distinction between Chrome and Android's Web Browser.

          Clearly you're ignorant on the subject, so please don't take offense if I continue to ignore your claims.

          Now, I don't have an exhaustive list... But there are the things mentioned above, addition of the Omnibox, better developer tools, Incognito Mode, pre-loading and rendering pages as an option for don't/wifi only/always, no limit for number of tabs to have open, hardware accelerated rendering, redesigned UI that seems to be both better and more consistent with the desktop platform... Sandboxing isn't there yet, though they claim to be working on it.

          Chrome and Android's web browser are both WebKit + V8, in which there was a fork from Chromium at Version 4, as outlined in the Google Android Commit Logs. Seems more as though Android's web browser has always been Chrome, with modifications to support mobile devices, from what was at the time a Current Chromium version (read: Chrome). Seems as though Google has simply made a more up-to-date build of their web browser available.

          Chrome 4 was ages ago. At the time, sure, maybe the Android browser was Chrome 4 + enhancements for mobile devices - really don't care to go research the state of Chrome 4 and what Android Browser had then and what has been added since. But how well has the Android stock browser kept up with Chrome development?

          There's some obvious, fundamental differences to how the two versions worked. They apparently was a fair amount of neutering done to make it work on the phone quickly and easily, or it was from such an early Chrome build that a lot of the features associated with Chrome weren't present yet.

          That's a big part of this. They're working to keep both versions working off the same codebase. This will keep the Android browser more current going forward.

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          Gingerbread's Web Browser also gets 100 on the Acid3 test.

          Well that must mean it's 100% standards compliant then!

      • by PRMan (959735)

        It may not be, but I have to tell you that I was extremely impressed by it this week. I went to nj.com for the New Jersey Star-Ledger's list of Super Bowl Commercials. They had a list with YouTube links with a little commentary on each one. I loaded it on my Android tablet (Asus Transformer I) and we were watching the commercials full screen. Later, we tried to pull it up on the PS3 and it kept giving us an out-of-memory error.

        Now, granted, on the tablet, we would have to restart the browser after about

        • I was amazed that when my beefy server was struggling this much to show the YouTube preview windows that the tablet had done so well.

          It could be the case that the server didn't have a video card supporting AVC and thus had to decode AVC on a CPU core, while the DSP in the tablet supported AVC.

  • Occupy Fragmentation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Superken7 (893292) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @04:14PM (#38958793) Journal

    Android users who are able to run Chrome Beta (that is, who are running ICS) are literally the 1%, according to Google's platform pie charts:
    http://developer.android.com/resources/dashboard/platform-versions.html [android.com]

    I prefer that they exploit the full power of their latest and greatest, but it's sad that only a mere 1% can access the latest and greatest :( (as of today, I'm sure this will change very quickly)

    • Shortsighted much? (Score:3, Informative)

      by teh31337one (1590023)

      They're not looking at who can run it today, but who will be able to run it in the future.

      On a side note, I think it's a good thing that the app is not part of the core OS, (like Gmail was removed from the core OS a few versions ago) and can as such be updated separately.

      • by afidel (530433)
        Actually given the number of apps which consume the browser component I think it SHOULD be part of the base OS and should also be updated regularly.
        • By part of the core OS I meant the open source portion of android, not GAPPs. Chrome is a part of the GAPPs package (maps, gmail etc)

          • by afidel (530433)
            Hmm, that means if you're developing for Android (not Android with Google) you can't assume the browser component will be available in the future, that kind of blows. I wonder if that means some third party Webkit library will become popular for developers who want to get their apps on things like the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet but still need a browser component?
            • There's the android browser named "browser" (and the ICS version is pretty decent) that'll possibly/probably still be available. Besides, nook/kindle use their own browsers anyway.

              They'll roll chrome in GAPPS and merge nice stuff from"browser" into it in time for the J release of android methinks.

    • by dmesg0 (1342071)

      It's only beta. If it is the typical Google beta, ICS will be obsolete by the time Chrome is out of beta.

      • by icebike (68054) *

        It's only beta. If it is the typical Google beta, ICS will be obsolete by the time Chrome is out of beta.

        On the other hand a Google Beta is usually better than anyone else's Release 7.2.

    • Most people will be able to run it within 2 years. This is enough time for a few early adopters to help with bug detection.

      I say 2 years because most people end up stuck with phones the carrier doesn't waste development effort working on OS upgrades for - of course they'd rather people bought a new phone than be able to keep the one they already own current. I'm sure they felt it could be ICS only for simplicity's sake, and the problem would fix itself.

      • Most people will be able to run it within 2 years.

        Only if carriers were to stop selling Gingerbread (2.3) phones today. Otherwise, someone who buys a Gingerbread phone two weeks from today will still be under contract two years from today. Do you remember how long it took after the release of Eclair (2.1) it took for carriers to stop selling phones running Donut (1.6)?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      it's sad that only a mere 1% can access the latest and greatest

      That 1% earned it. Are you some kind of communist?

    • by hpoul (219387)

      well.. it would be really great if that 1% could access it.. i have android 4.0.3, but i live in austria, so i'm still out of luck.. https://support.google.com/chrome/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2393487&p=market_countries [google.com]

    • It's significantly less than 1% right now.

      Firstly as has been pointed out elsewhere, the beta is only available in a restricted set of countries right now.

      Secondly the beta doesn't currently support devices with MIPS CPUs, which counts out several low-cost Android tablets.

    • by Guppy (12314)

      Android users who are able to run Chrome Beta (that is, who are running ICS) are literally the 1%, according to Google's platform pie charts:

      "Google's Android Update Alliance Is Already Dead" [pcmag.com]. Doesn't look like that 1% segment is going to expand all that fast either.

      I'd been thinking about buy a Sprint Marquee, but LG's being quite squirrelly about whether it will ever get an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich.

    • by Sark666 (756464)

      I'm curious, what does it need in ICS that is not in honeycomb? there are quite a few honeycomb tablets out there.

    • by rrossman2 (844318)

      But those stats don't count those who are running ICS unofficially are they? (Not being smart, I'm actually curious)

      There's a lot of people running oscomic, CM9, and other AOSP builds on devices that don't have ICS.. such as me with my galaxy s gt-i9000

  • Google should stop putting "beta" to their products, it's like we're going to see a 'final' version in the future.
    • Since this is limited to 4.0 devices I think the beta tag is appropriate. I'm sure they will port it to earlier versions and eventually remove the beta.
      • Good point, but I don't think that beta applies... or at least remove it sooner. Remember Gmail Beta?
        • by Kenja (541830)
          The many Lords of the parthenon forbid that Google actually uses the term "beta" correctly unlike 99% of the software companies out there. Beta does not simply mean "pre-release".
          • The many Lords of the parthenon forbid that Google actually uses the term "beta" correctly unlike 99% of the software companies out there. Beta does not simply mean "pre-release".

            "it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."

      • Is there an extensive history of android apps written for version X being ported back to version X?

      • by idontgno (624372)

        That's the amazing part of this story that no one seems to be picking up on.

        Google actually produced a beta which, by intent or accident, seems to actually be restricted to a beta-sized community, and not their entire customer base.

        It's unprecedented, and if they follow through by removing the "beta" tag before making the browser widely available, it'll be the Singularity!

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by SJHillman (1966756)

          Just like Gmail, Google+ and a host of other Google services started out limited to a very small group... and then they expanded the beta to their entire user base later on.

        • by Calos (2281322)

          From what I can tell, it has more to do with the GPU-accelerated GUI and HTML5 rendering.

          They could neuter it and backport it... maybe they will... but I'd guess they'll opt to leave Browser as "good enough" for those devices.

          This really does behave like a browser, after all - not all features you expect from Chrome are implemented, there are some reports of crashes, etc. It certainly doesn't seem like it's prime-time Browser-replacing material yet.

  • I won't install any beta software on my phone if I have a choice. I try to avoid unstable and poorly functional software in general. And if they feel their software is stable and functional, they shouldn't call it beta.
    • Good for you? I don't think Google cares a whole hell of a lot.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      Beta is for when they want others to test it. That means they know it has bugs. Only those that want to help find the bugs should apply. Obviously this is not your cup of tea.

    • I wish I could mod this up as interesting or incitful... "I try to avoid unstable and poorly functional software in general.": I agree, and I also like to avoid pooping before I brush my teeth.
  • Now implement synergy, native cards for multitasking, unobtrusive notifications, and a gesture area with intuitive, consistent gestures throughout the OS and all applications.

  • by rafial (4671) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @04:37PM (#38959145) Homepage

    I've put this on my Galaxy Tab 10.1, which I recently updated to a developer release of CyanogenMod9 (The forthcoming ICS based Cyanogen). It really is nice. I can load up the full desktop version of Google+, which only sorta-kinda worked under the standard ICS browsers, and sorta-kinda worked differently under Firefox mobile, and it works 100%, no compromises. And doesn't feel much slower than my desktop either. That's great! The only annoyance is that it does seem to identify itself as a mobile browser, and I haven't yet found an option to change the user agent. No problem for sites like Wikipedia or G+ that give you a link to escape their mobile versions, but could be annoying elsewhere, since so many mobile sites are terrible. Surprising overside, since the stock browser in ICS includes an option to "request desktop site".

    • by Fri13 (963421)

      Well, one thing what I loved on ICS browser was in Menu > Request desktop version. As tapping it and you got always a full site instead question of mobile version or automatically a mobile version.

      CyanogeMod is great modification of Android, but they really should primarily offer a vanilla version first and THEN separated packages for modifications like root, CM7 power widgets, CM7 theme and own custom apps.

  • by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @04:40PM (#38959183) Homepage

    If it's not an official ROM, don't expect support. Running EncounterICS Beta 3 on a Droid X here. And like other users of unofficial ICS ROMs, it doesn't work. For me, the problem is that all web pages are blank. Being that us bleeding edge custom ROM users are used to being bug testers, this is good for the beta and hopefully will be fixed soon.

    • by jsh1972 (1095519)
      It's hit or miss, I guess... typing this on it on my HP touch pad w/cm9
    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Obviously it isn't consistent, but it works fine on my G2 running Andromadus.

    • by bdclary (663568)
      I'm late to the party with this, but I think the reason it won't work on your Droid X is because you aren't running full ICS, and Chrome for Android requires the hardware acceleration feature provided by ICS. Yes, you have an ICS ROM, but unfortunately, the boot loader on the DX is locked, so you're not running an ICS kernel (and able to take advantage of the hardware acceleration feature). And that locked boot loader is why my next phone will be a Nexus.
  • My phone is still stuck on android 2.3 -.-
    4 is god knows how far away.
    • by na1led (1030470)
      Put ICS on it. I have the original Galaxy S (US Cellular Mesmerize) that only had 2.3, but I found ICS on Rootzwiki and it works great.
      • by FrigBot (1459361)

        Well I'll get modded to hell for this, but can you briefly explain how to install ICS on your phone? I have a Galaxy S2. Thanks.

        I feel bad for asking.

        • by na1led (1030470)
          Go to Rootzwiki.com, go to the Forum section and look for your Phone in the list. There should be a Development thread and in their you should find guides on installing ICS. May have to do a little reading, but well worth it.
  • Firefox mobile? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slyrat (1143997) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @04:50PM (#38959299)
    Firefox has been doing this for a while. It is one of the primary reasons I use it since there is great synchronization of bookmarks along with it being a great mobile browser. I'm surprised it has taken chrome this long to do it and I'm also surprised it is only good for the newest version of android. I'll stick with Firefox mobile for now until the chrome works in 2.2 or 2.3.
    • Hopefully Firefox mobile will get good enough that by then you wont want to switch ;-)

      And I'm saying that because if we lose diversity on mobile the web will become very locked in again hehe.

    • They did bookmark sync between Chrome and Android browser some time ago, so sync is not all there is to it.

      • by slyrat (1143997)

        They did bookmark sync between Chrome and Android browser some time ago, so sync is not all there is to it.

        Ah, that is good to know. The sync wasn't the only reason I used it on mobile. The easy tab switching along with some of the plug ins have made it a bit nicer than the stock android browser.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @06:00PM (#38960197) Journal

    If you want to try that, be aware that it doesn't support HTTP proxying. Kind of an epic fail on Google's behalf, given that they have just added system-wide proxy setting in ICS after several years of users complaining about the lack of this.

  • is it going to give proper mobile browser support ??

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