Chrome Beta – A New Browser For Android
Tested version: 0.16.4130.199
Latest version: 26.0.1410.58
Requires Android: from 4.0
But now – drum roll please – there’s Chrome Beta. Find out why we’re so enthusiastic about this new browser in today’s review.
Features & Use
Test device: Samsung Galaxy Nexus
Android version: 4.0.2
Chrome Beta will run on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher.
When you first launch the browser, you will be prompted to sign in with your Google Account in order to enable syncing with your desktop browser. Logging in isn’t obligatory, but we do recommend doing so.
Bookmarks and browser history will be synced. A great feature: you are automatically logged into the Google services without having to enter your account information. You can disable this feature in the options.
As for browsing: there’s a bar with three controls elements (the URL bar, the button for the tab index and a menu key ) at the very top. The URL bar is also a search tool. The tabs are displayed with a small animation. Large thumbnails of the tabs are displayed, and even though they are rendered as large as possible you will find that you can still see all open tabs at a glance. The tabs slide together when scrolling—yet another lovely animation. Despite all the animations I did not get the impression that the app was overloaded with animations.
One of the coolest features this browser has to offer: you can see and access all the tabs you’ve currently got open on your computer! This is awesome in situations when you simply don’t have time to send yourself an email with all the links.
There’s also a private browsing mode.
Switching from one tab to the next is nice and easy and can be done by swiping across the display.
Selecting links is just as easy: whenever there are a few links clusered together an enlargement of the are with the links pops up. You can then select the link you're after.
The supports many HTML5 functions, even embedded videos.
The only drawbacks I can see is that the browser doesn't support Adobe Flash (for which the blame lands on Adobe and not Google, btw), that it isn't possible to set up a main page and that desktop versions of sites can't be accessed when using a tablet. As far as viewing Adobe Flash animation goes, HTML5 is spreading like cold germs so your browsing experienced shouldn't be hindered too much by the missing Adobe Flash support.
Those are the browser’s main features. Chrome Beta does resemble the Ice Cream Sandwhich Android Browser, but I am very impressed by by the features. Hurrah for superior browsers!
Screen & Controls
Using Chrome Beta is super intuitive, and fun, too, thanks to the cute animations.
The whole thing – tabs, controls elements, etc. – looks rather chic and there are animations here and there to keep things interesting.
The most important controls elements are always visible, and all other features can be accessed via the menu top right.
Speed & Stability
Chrome Beta trumps all other browsers, even the very impressive Galaxy Nexus one when it comes to speed.
Everything loads within the blink of an eye (including websites, naturally), even big sites such as The Verge (15 seconds the first time I accessed the site, and 10 seconds ever since).
The browser is also exceptionally stable – it didn't cave even when laoding complex, large sites (the same cannot be said for the standard browser). We're very impressed, bearing in mind especially that this is the Beta version, so let's see what the future holds in terms of developments.
Chrome Beta is free which we feel deserves a big fat five star rating, even though free stuff is what we’ve come to expect from Google. I would issue a serious word of warning to Chrome’s competition, especially the pay-for browsers: there’s a new kid in town, and this kid is better and cheaper (read: free) than all of y’all!
Let’s see what the future has in store for this open source project—we’re on the edges of our seats with anticipation!
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