One of the biggest unanswered questions in the Android development world is “where’s Chrome?” Google has made huge strides in web development attached to the Chrome name, some of which Android’s “Browser” has not been a part. Thanks to a bonafide Android port of Chromium, that’s about to change.
Supporting Chromium on Android will bring many advantages for both users and developers alike. Not only will Android more swiftly benefit from the changes made to the project by the open source community, but bugs between browsers will eventually become nonexistent. Andrei Popescu of Google has used the WebKit developer website to announce Google’s new commitment to the open sourced project:
A while ago, we started the effort to upstream the Android port of WebKit. For a variety of reasons, this work took longer than anticipated and was never finished... Over time, the Android Browser has come to share more and more code with Chrome (both WebKit and Chromium). This approach has a number of advantages for the WebKit community... We plan to start by setting up a webkit.org build bot that will compile Chromium’s DRT for Android using the Android NDK, SDK and toolchain. We anticipate a reasonably small set of changes to the Chromium port to achieve this. We’re fully committed to maintaining this new flavor of the Chromium port of WebKit and having a build bot up and running as soon as possible will make this an easier task.Andrei PopescuGoogle
Essentially, it seems Google will be involved with developing two different versions of Android’s Browser for now: Browser and Chromium for Android. Eventually, however, the two may merge as one. If that merger is ever made complete, Android’s browser will most likely transition to Chrome for Android. Google wouldn’t comment on any specific branding, but with the way Google TV and Honeycomb’s browsers have turned out, Chrome for phones seems destined to be. Which brings us to the million dollar question.
Will Ice Cream Sandwich bring Chrome to Android? It may be a little early to assume that, but don’t be too surprised if it happens sooner rather than later.