It was just a matter of time before Google would come up with their mobile version of Chrome. The desktop version has been a great success, even though it was pretty isolated from any other Google service. With the coming of Chrome Beta for Android (we’ll be calling it Chrome Beta in the rest of this article), Google developers hope to create a connection between Android smartphones and desktops. We’ll not work with cliffhangers this time and just admit it already: they truly did an awesome job at doing just that. They made Google Beta and Google desktop work together extremely well.
So why did Google come up with a mobile browser, while there is a pretty good Android browser already? After you’ve read the review, you’ll probably have found the answer. We can already tell you that this is a pretty big step forward for the Android user experience, not only because of its integration with Chrome desktop, but also because of its renewing design and animations.
The application comes in a ~50 Mb package, but takes up about 55 Mb on your memory, depending on the amount of cache memory that’s being used. After starting the app, we’re instantly faced with a sign-in page, which enables the app to connect with Chrome Desktop. Skipping this step is possible, but then you’ll miss the whole point of Chrome Beta. After signing in, we’re being introduced into the various functions of the app.
The interface is pretty straight-forward. At the bottom, there are three main ‘sources’ of websites: most visited, favorites and open tabs. The most visited section shows us, how surprising, our most visited websites, along with recently closed websites. It looks quite similar to Chrome Desktop’s interface when you open a new tab: the websites are actually displayed as miniatures, allowing us to locate the site at a glance. The favorites section is divided in three parts: desktop bookmarks, mobile bookmarks and other bookmarks. It is very convenient that these bookmarks are being separated from each other – though it is possible to create a desktop bookmark on your phone. The open tabs section is probably the most interesting one. All websites (tabs) that we currently have open on our desktop, are also being listed on our phone. Say you’re browsing the web with Chrome Desktop and you found a website containing an address you want to send to a friend by sending a text message; the only thing you have to do is clicking the link on your phone and letting it load the webpage, copy and paste the text and you’re done. It’s that easy.
Another important aspect of Chrome Beta is the Tabs function. All tabs are basically stapled together like a WebOS-esque stack of cards. Browsing through this stack can be done by swiping up and down, while swiping a card to the right will close it. At the top there’s an unmistakable New tab button, which opens up a new card and brings us to the aforementioned most visited, favorites or open tabs sections.
The menu shows a quick favorite button, next and previous buttons, and functions such as New tab, New Incognito tab, bookmarks and share. Yeah that’s right, Chrome’s beloved Incognito mode is now available on your mobile phone too. It is based on the card system too, and the stack is displayed right next to the normal stack.
So far, we’re really impressed not only by the features, but also the looks and animations of Chrome Beta. Animations are buttery smooth, scrolling through the card system works great and there’s no lag at all. Its looks are consistent with the Ice Cream Sandwich design – which is by definition just beautiful. The incognito tabs show up in a darker color scheme, reflecting what everyone probably associates with anonymous browsing activities.
All in all, we can’t say much negative about Chrome Beta. Well actually, nothing negative at all. It just feels consistent throughout all functions, and it is a major step forward in mobile browsing experience. We think Google’s strategy on Chrome is to create a cross-platform ecosystem in which the website browsing experience is shared along all devices. For now, that strategy seems to work.