February 9, 2012 | by Jamie Maltman
As you’ve probably heard by now, Google Chrome (beta) has finally come to Android. The wait is over! At least it is if you’re one of the lucky ones already running ICS. For the rest of our devices that haven’t made the leap to Android 4.0 or never will, we’re stuck on the outside looking in. And the Honeycombers and Gingerbread men and women are jealous.
When I first switched to Android I was very surprised to find that Chrome wasn’t already the default browser. As a dedicated Chrome user in spirit from the day they posted their famous pre-launch comic, it has been my primary browser ever since. Well, until I switched to Android. Now with my tablet (soon to be ICS), and handset (sadly among the relics that will forever be confined to Gingerbread-land) the main ways that I interact with the internet, I miss my Chrome. I miss it for my bookmarks, the nice Google integration, better speed and stability. But the wait continues.
Why did it take so long for integration-mad Google to bring the official Google browser to Android?
Were they waiting for specific breakthroughs to the OS itself that ICS made possible? If that’s the case, then the outsiders may be permanently fragmented, at least in their available browser choices. With enough chatter out there about the fragmentation between the different manufacturers and their own takes on Android, do we really want Google to be making their own flagship products a part of that fragmentation?
Did they want to wait for more powerful devices so that the mobile version could be a full representation of everything Chrome instead of a pale imitation? Many of the people who soured on the early versions of Firefox for Android and never went back might actually agree with this part of the plan, not to mention some serious refining of the browser before the actual release. Does that mean that some of the older devices just wouldn’t be able to handle Chrome? Is this a plot to force us to upgrade our devices even sooner?
Was it that Chrome has really only been making serious headway in the desktop browser market more recently, previously being the preferred option for only the seriously tech savvy? Except that the tech savvy Chrome users were also the hardcore of early Android adopters and have been irritated by this disconnect ever since. Ironically, I know a lot of Apple users who have been turning to Chrome as their primary browser, which would make for an interesting marketing tactic for ICS devices. On the other hand, if Chrome moves to the iPad and we’re all left out, there will be some angry Android users. Is a browser ever worth switching phones for? It was a major black mark on my pre-Android BlackBerry, so for some it might. Chalk that up as another reason why Google should make this more widely available as soon as possible.
Whatever the reason for the long wait in the first place, hopefully Chrome will be finding its way to other flavors of Android soon. We know that the modding community is already sinking its teeth into getting this to work on more devices. It requires an ARMv7 processor and Hardware Acceleration to be able to handle it, so that does rule out some older devices that can’t use the Android version of Firefox either.
So while you’re lamenting being left behind, do you want to make yourself feel a little bit better by taking a look at some of the early complaints?
- No Flash – with Adobe deciding to slow down on Flash Mobile, Chrome won’t be winning over the people who saw this as an advantage over the iPad.
- No Desktop – at this point even though you’re using the mobile version of a desktop browser, its forcing you to view the mobile version. If that’s important to you (like it is for certain sites I use), then Chrome isn’t the full solution for you yet.
- Doesn’t Replace the Stock Browser – it may never fully displace it, but for now as a Beta you can understand that Google might not feel comfortable completely removing the backup option.
Of course Google will likely rapidly remove the issues they can control, so by the time you are able to get it on your device you may be working with the browser you really want. With the overall trend for Google being massive integration, I expect Chrome to be a major part of this push. This release is only the very beginning, with a lot more to come.
While you continue to swim with Dolphins, go to the Opera, hunt with Firefoxes, keep things stock, and choose mini, mobile or HD, your ICS-wielding friends will count my favorite browser among the features that they get to show off, and I don’t. At least until my Transformer upgrades. That wait continues as well.
Are you a happy first day adopter of Chrome? Or are you unhappy out in the cold? Or happily sticking to your browser of choice? Let us know!