Chrome for Android is the new Web Browser champion on Android
Feb 11, 2012 4:11 PM –
Chrome for Android is the official Chrome browser designed for Android. Boasting ‘Speed’, ‘Simplicity’ and ‘Signing In’ as its key features the app aims to replicate the smooth experience Chrome users get on their home computers. While there isn’t much surprise that Chrome for Android has been released, it has perhaps raised more eyebrows in the fact it has taken so long to launch. So, is Chrome for Android actually worth the wait? How does it compare to the native Android browser? And how does it match up to the likes of Dolphin HD and Firefox?
Tested on: HTC Desire HD
Pros & Cons:
- Slick UI!
- Immediate access to all your Chrome bookmarks!
- Send pages from Chrome on your computer to Chrome for Android!
- No flash.
- Only on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
- Delay when linking from social networks.
Before I get started I should explain that Google decided that the beta version of Chrome for Android is initially only going to be on devices running Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. So, if it’s not coming up in your Market- there’s the reason. Additionally, the app is only available in th following countries: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. Sadly it’s not available outside this group, although it might be worth giving the recently reviewed Market Unlocker a go to see if you can access it.
Watch on Mobile
These limitations aside, let’s utilise Google’s own features to summarise.
The blurb reads: “Pages load in a snap and hardware-accelerated page rendering lets you fly through long pages. Experience the mobile web, Chrome fast”. I have to admit I thought Chrome did feel very quick. Although it struggled a little bit more with links direct from Facebook and Twitter, it certainly felt whizzy. However, context is important here so I thought I should compare the speed against other top browsers.
I picked two random websites, ones I haven’t visited on either my laptop or device … www.hairybikers.com (relax, it’s a genuine travel/cookery show from the UK) and www.football365.com (a soccer website). Both over a strong Wi-Fi connection and on the same device, a HTC Desire HD (similar to an Inspire 4G). Here are the times I took:
- Chrome for Android= 4.8s and 5.2s
- Native Android browser= 16.3s and 14.1s
- Firefox= 22.3s and 14.6s
- Opera= 16.1s and 12.4s
- Dolphin HD= 10.7s and 12.2s
I have to admit I was quite surprised to see Chrome perform quite as well as this. I had received a few reports that Chrome was quick but still relatively similar to the likes of Dolphin HD. Big tick to Chrome then! The only time I noticed slow-down was when I pressed a link from within my Facebook or Twitter account. On these occasions, Chrome for Android felt far slower than my native browser in presenting the page.
Within Chrome for Android’s blurb, beneath simplicity, there are two headings: ‘Tabs reimagined‘ and ‘Easy Navigation‘. The tabs in Chrome are arguably more obvious than in other browsers, a discreet number sits in the top right hand corner of the screen and when you press the tabs are presented in a slick animation that isn’t far removed from looking like a deck of cards. I would say this is a pretty neat effect, but not a giant leap away form the way other browsers handle tabs. Certainly more intuitive however. Navigation is actually an area where I thought Chrome really does excel. There is a ‘link preview’ where links become easier to select and a ‘find in page’ feature which lets you search for words or phrases on the page- pretty cool if you’re looking for specific phrases on a large web page.
This is where Chrome really does come into its own. Simply sign into your Google account and all your relevant Chrome goodness is there; pages you have visited on your computer are searchable now on your device. All your bookmarks are present right there on your device too. This makes for a remarkably intuitive and uniform experience whether you are browsing on your mobile device or your computer.
There is even a feature called ‘Send to mobile’. By installing an extension on your computer Chrome browser, you can send a URL direct to your mobile device. This is pretty cool but I found that it took 3 or 4 minutes for links to arrive. It’s great to see the page suddenly come up on your device, but you can’t expect it to be immediate, which is a shame. In this case I’ve found apps like Google Chrome to Phone far quicker. Still, a neat inclusion and hopefully something which is improved on in the future (seeing as this is only a beta release).
However, no Flash!
As has been widely reported, Chrome for Android doesn’t support Adobe Flash. 😯 I did find browsing around numerous websites a little strange without Flash, and on one occasion visiting a Flash-rich website made by phone crash! For the majority of the time however, this wasn’t too big a deal, despite the experience being noticeably inferior to that which includes Flash content. Now we know what it’s like to browse on the iPhone (only way faster)…
Chrome for Android – Front page
Chrome for Android – Webpage view
Chrome for Android – Fluid pinch-to-zoom
Chrome for Android – Recently viewed pages grid
Chrome for Android – Desktop Bookmarks
Chrome for Android – Bookmark sections
Chrome for Android – Find in page
Chrome for Android – Adjust default font size
Chrome for Android – 3D effect tabs list
Chrome for Android – Menu
Chrome for Android – Content settings
Chrome for Android – Settings
While using Ice Cream Sandwich, Chrome for Android easily replaces the native browser I previously used. It’s not only fast but also has all my bookmarks from my primary means of browsing the web, Chrome on my laptop. If I bookmark a site, I know it will appear promptly on my phone if I need it. If I have to leave my computer mid-way through reading a page, it will appear in my Chrome for Android history to continue reading on the go. It syncs beautifully.
Ease of Use:
Besides momentarily losing my way when looking for my bookmarks, navigation is genuinely easy and options are simple to locate and configure. It seems very much like a faithful copy of the full Chrome browser, even with features like Incognito browsing.
As mentioned, this has replaced my native browser, so I use it whenever I browse on my Android device. The browser is sticky when linking from Facebook, for example, so you might want to use it cautiously if much of your browser use comes directly from social networking links.
The interface is remarkably rich and full of cool animations and slick visualisations. For example, when you have your tabs listed, stroking up and down gives a 3D effect which looks neat. Wherever possible there are smart and intuitive effects. Also when the tabs are listed you can simply sweep across to remove them, this all drips in polish and is a joy to use.
Tags: Android App
, Android Apps
, Android Tablet Apps
, Android Web Browser
, AndroidTapp.com App Review
, Chrome Beta
, Chrome Beta for Android
, Chrome for Android
, Dolphin HD
, Google Chrome Beta for Android
, Ice Cream Sandwich
, Mobile Browser
, Mobile Web Browser
, WebKit Browser
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