Google's Chrome browser: Coming soon to an Android near you?

By JR Raphael (@jr_raphael)

One of the biggest mysteries of Android has long been why Google's Chrome browser isn't integrated into the platform. The Android Web browser isn't branded as "Chrome"; it doesn't even act or appear much like its desktop counterpart. From the looks of it, though, that situation may soon change.

Google Chrome Browser Android

Documents at the Chromium website suggest an Android-friendly version of Chrome is now being actively developed. The documents, first noticed by tech blog Conceivably Tech, include changelogs and comments from several Googlers involved with the Chrome team. 

(Chromium is the open source project upon which the Google Chrome browser is based.)

Having the Chrome browser in Android could provide some interesting performance advantages -- think Chrome-like Web apps on your phone or tablet -- as well as better unity and synchronization between Google's desktop and mobile browsers. It'd be a sensible marketing move by Google, too, given the company's ongoing efforts to increase visibility and adoption of its Chrome platform.

This isn't the first sign we've seen of a touch-like version of Chrome, by the way: Back in April, news broke of plans to build a tablet-ready version of the full Chrome OS software. Programming notes revealed work on things like a touch-optimized "new tab" page and other tweaks that'd make the browser more touch-friendly. It's entirely possible these same concepts could be applied to a browser-specific version of the project.

Chrome for Android and the Phone Browser Future

Ultimately, whether the Chrome for Android project is something about to launch or just a vague possibility for the distant future, we'll almost certainly see some significant improvements to Google's Android phone browser very soon. Google is hosting a media event with Samsung next week to discuss "what's new from Android." That event is expected to showcase the launch of Google's next-gen Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS as well as some sort of new flagship phone from Samsung (presumably the long rumored "Nexus Prime" device -- or whatever it ends up being called).

So, let's put a few pieces together: Google has made it clear that Ice Cream Sandwich will be based off of Honeycomb, the tablet-only release that came out earlier this year. Honeycomb includes a beefed-up browser with support for on-screen tabs, form auto-fill, private browsing, and integrated Chrome bookmark syncing. Google has said ICS will "bring everything you love about Honeycomb on your tablet to your phone." All considered, then, even if the ICS release doesn't include a full-fledged Chrome app, it should by all counts bring things like tabs and native bookmark syncing to the world of Android phones.

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Google and Samsung's Android event is scheduled to take place next Tuesday at the CTIA mobile tech conference in San Diego. I'll be there to check out all the new Android goodies and act as your eyes and ears; stay tuned for my thoughts and (hopefully) hands-on impressions. 

Whether we see Chrome for Android next week or not, one thing's for sure: This month promises to hold plenty of interesting surprises.

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

Article copyright 2011 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

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