Google's Chrome browser has been chewing up market share on desktops and laptops for a while now, and now it's going mobile. If you've got an Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) phone or tablet you can download it now. If you don't—and that should be most of you—time to get jealous.
Chrome for Android features a host of improvements over the old Android browser, but the biggest highlight has got to be automatic tab and bookmark syncing between your desktop and phone. So you've got a few tabs open at home, and have to run out the door? Not a problem, you've got those same tabs open on your phone with a quick tap. It's also just a much slicker UI. It borrows a lot of the swiping gestures that are deeply integrated in Ice Cream Sandwich for easier and more intuitive navigation. Tab-management looks awesome, and early indications seem like it's more than fast enough (quicker than the already fast Android 4.0 stock browser).
We're playing with it now, and will update shortly with hands-on impressions. [Google Chrome Blog]
UPDATE: Just spent some hands on time with Chrome Beta on a Galaxy Nexus. Here are my quick notes:
It looks really, really good. Tab management is fantastic. Either swiping from one side of the screen to the other to switch, or by using the card viewer, it's fast and intuitive. Websites usually tired to reload when I went back into the tab, which slowed things down and was pretty annoying. Scrolling on pages was very fast in general, as was zooming in and out.
Syncing it up with my desktop Chrome browser was really easy, and within minute I had access to all of the tabs I opened (though it seemed to only show the ones I opened going forward, but not the ones that were open before I linked it all up).
It's also got a cool feature where if multiple links are stacked very closely on top of each other (i.e. gizmodo.com
A menu will pop up to help ensure you select the right one. It's a little detail, but it's nice.
The biggest, saddest omission is that it is lacking the "Request desktop site" button that you find in the stock Android 4.0 browser, which allows you to view a full site instead of the mobile version. That's one of my favorite features from Android 4.0's browser, and it's a drag to find it missing here, but hopefully that will be coming soon.
Over all, it's fast and pretty and considering it's in Beta, it's in pretty good shape. Hopefully it will only improve from here.
UPDATE 2: Here's a lil' hands-on video:
UPDATE 3: In case you were wondering if this would eventually replace the stock Android browser, we've got an official statement from Google:
With today's launch, Chrome for Android Beta will be available as an app in Android Market. It currently will not replace your Android browser and you'll be able to have both on your Android device. Right now our focus is on making Chrome for Android Beta available to Android 4.0 phone/tablet users to gather initial feedback. Our long-term plan is for Chrome to become the standard browser on Android 4.0 and above.
It's what we assumed, but y'know, nice to have it confirmified.
UPDATE 4: (hands... so... tired... from... updating...) Adobe has confirmed that Flash will not be supported in Chrome for Android. We already knew that Adobe was planning on stopping support for mobile Flash, so this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, but it's it's still a tiny bummer. There are still a lot of sites out there that are Flash-based, and while one could argue that they "shouldn't be" it still sucks that they won't be viewable any more until they change their ways. Ah well, such is the way of progress. [Adobe Blog via The Verge]