Google has introduced a beta version of the Chrome web browser for Android smartphone, initially only available on smartphones with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
"Chrome for Android Beta is focused on speed and simplicity, but it also features seamless sign-in and sync so you can take your personalized web browsing experience with you wherever you go, across devices," Google veep Sundar Pichai wrote on the Google mobile blog.
It’s long been a source of puzzlement that Google has not shipped a mobile version of the firm’s Chrome browser with the popular smartphone OS. While the Android browser isn’t particularly terrible, it has left the door open for third-party entries such as Opera, Skyfire and Firefox. Perhaps that was the goal all along.
"One of the biggest pains of mobile browsing is selecting the correct link out of several on a small-screen device," Pichai said, describing the irritating zoom and precision touch needed to do things that would be as easy as a mouse click on a PC.
Chrome mobile appears to be more than just a port of the desktop version by adding mobile specific features such as "Link Preview" which automatically zoom in on links to make clicking on them easier.
Another long awaited feature that arrives with mobile Chrome is that bookmarks will be synced to the user’s Google account and hence appear in both the desktop and mobile web browsers.
Nice as Chrome mobile is, there’s no support for flash yet and being limited to Android 4.0 means that the vast majority of Android users wont be able to try it yet.
Google didn’t say anything about plans to make the browser available on earlier versions of Android.