Google accelerates Android browser updates with mobile Chrome

Long-term plan, says Google, is to make Chrome the standard browser on Android

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Although the stock Android browser offers some sync -- it automatically updates bookmarks with a user's copies of Chrome -- the beta of Chrome for Android also syncs open tabs and auto-complete suggestions with Chrome on a computer.

Users can install the Chrome for Android beta without disturbing the stock Android browser, but that may change, the Google spokeswoman hinted, saying, "It currently does not replace your Android browser."

Bloggers were upbeat about the new browser, with many remarking that Google had finally married its desktop and mobile user base.

"Chrome for Android is polished, slick, and gives even the stock Ice Cream Sandwich browser -- which itself was a huge leap forward from Android browsers of the past -- a run for its money," said Computerworld's Android expert, JR Raphael. "In many ways, it feels like something that should have been integrated into Ice Cream Sandwich from the start."

Hilwa suspects that Google may also want to consolidate its browser platform to benefit its real bottom line: advertising. "I wonder how much they want to integrate their ad networks between desktop and mobile," he said. "We haven't heard much about that."

Google launched desktop Chrome in September 2008. Since then, the browser has, depending on the source, climbed to third or even second place in popularity.

Chrome for Android is based on Chrome 16.0.915.75 on the desktop, a version that has yet to appear as an update for personal computers.

Chrome for Android requires a smartphone or tablet running Android 4.0, and can be downloaded by users in the U.S., Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain and the U.K.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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