Feb 08 AT 12:42 AM Taylor Wimberly 97 Comments

Goodbye old Browser, Chrome to become the standard browser on Android 4.0 and above


We saw it coming, but Chrome for Android is the biggest news for Google’s mobile platform this year. It signals that Android will be around for a long time, but we might also look back on today as the day that native operating systems began to die and web operating systems started to take over.

The future of connected devices, the Internet of everything, is when our smartphones and tablets will boot to the web. Google has their own project for this called Chromium OS that targets the desktop, while others like Mozilla are already targeting mobile devices with their Boot to Gecko (B2G) project, the standalone operating system for the open web on mobile.

Their shared mission is rather simple. They believe the open web can displace proprietary, single-vendor stacks (Android, iOS, WP7, etc) for application development. There are still gaps that prevent web developers from being able to build apps that are the equals of native apps, but that is slowly changing. Mozilla plans to announce significant updates to their Boot to Gecko project during Mobile World Congress, so prepare to be surprised.

Back to today’s announcement, Chrome for Android is not a simplified version of Chrome or Chrome-lite. It is the full blow multi-process desktop browser, applied to the Android activity model for small devices. That includes things like advanced HTML5 features, GPU accelerated rendering, and Google’s V8 JavaScript engine optimized for Android.

“You should have your Chrome experience wherever you are,” says Arnaud Weber, Engineering Manager at Google.

Chrome for Android is based on Google Chrome version 16.0.915.75, one that is newer than the latest stable release for personal computers. Because Chrome for Android is pretty much the same browser that we see on desktops, we should expect updates from Google every six to eight weeks.

For example since Google released Android 4.0, they have also shipped Chrome 15 and Chrome 16 to desktops. Chrome 17 should be available in the coming weeks.

When the news broke this morning we were uncertain what this meant for the default Android Browser, but now its fate might be written on the wall. A Google spokeswoman told Computer World that “Right now, our focus is on making Chrome for Android Beta available to Android 4.0 phone/tablet users to gather initial feedback…. [But] our long-term plan is for Chrome to become the standard browser on Android 4.0 and above.”

Mobile devices running Android 3.x and lower might never see Chrome. Right now users with Android 4.0 can install Chrome without replacing the stock Android Browser, but Google hinted that this might change in the coming months. A Google spokeswoman said, “It currently does not replace your Android Browser.”

Thinking along those same lines, we can also say that Chrome OS does not currently replace the Android OS, but it sure feels like that is where Google is going. Android is the glue that fills the gap until Chromium OS is ready for mobile devices. I believe Google has had this vision for quite some time, but the technology was not advanced enough to achieve that goal. Back in 2009, we thought that Google would abandon native Android apps in favor of web apps, but that obviously didn’t happen.

Now that companies like Google and Mozilla are filling in the gaps of the open web, we could see a true web operating system sooner than we think. Heck we could see a mobile device that boots to the web this month, but I think the actual transition of consumer devices will be much slower since the wireless carriers own everything and they hate changes that make them lose control.

But yeah, Chrome for Android is pretty awesome right now. I’m excited to see where this goes.

Via: Computer World

Source: Chromium Blog

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Dirge

    Is it true Chrome for Android won’t ever support Flash?

    • Fulaman

      That’s what I hate, otherwise, I saw this coming since Safari was the default browser for iOS.

    • BruceCLin

      It’s up to Adobe.

    • Jeff Pan

      Yes Adobe confirmed it!

    • mattcoz

      So this means apps that use Flash in a WebView are going to be SOL? Well, damn. Looks like I’ll have to rethink my current development.

      • Kory

        You should have re-thought your development as soon as you thought “I’ll make it in flash!”

        Maybe upgrade to COBOL next time?

  • greeny42

    Dear Google, Thank you for continuing to make our lives awesome.

    • dcds

      Yes, and I’m all for leaving core apps to be updated in the Market, like Maps, Earth and G+ are already.

      They are already avoiding the browser becoming like the mobile IE. By taking that approach, they avoid fragmenting the web space much (considering Android is the absolute leader in the smartphone era), which is something Google cares about dearly.

      So… not many webkit legacy versions wandering around in the future. Not many people complaining about not having some feature. Cool.

  • erikiksaz

    Just add back those quick controls and it’ll be PERFECT

    • delinear

      Yeah, I’d just got used to using the quick controls, they’re really convenient but it’s hard to see how they’d work well with the current swipe implementation for Chrome tabs/screens. My initial impressions of Chrome were pretty good though, it feels very slick but there are obviously one or two UI niggles they probably need to iron out with community feedback.

  • AsakuraZero

    i am happy about hte chrome browser on android i just hope to see it running like butter in my gs2 soon enough

    i think android will be what chrome os wanted to be, the unification of mobility, it could be your desktop, your phone or tablet, even your car or tv, it will be more possible to make android rule them all.

    more because its name its already a known brand

  • Dylan Andersen

    Great read. Hit on the key points, wimbet. Kudos!

    • http://dylandersen.me/ Dylan Andersen

      Not logged in.. fail.

  • spazby

    It is awesome but please make it available on prior android versions and support flash….

    • Jöran Schlömer

      I don’t think the flash support thing is solely up to Google.

      • delinear

        Nope, and it’s not sounding promising on that front:


        Maybe Google will keep the existing browser at least as an optinal app, so we can use it to still access flash when we really need to (I’d rather not use flash on a mobile but sometimes there’s no other option).

        • WlfHart

          I certainly hope some option is left…

        • http://www.jimtravis.com jimtravis

          I too want Flash. Although alternative non-Flash pages are increasing, not every Flash based site / video has a non-Flash site / video alternative on-line. Without Flash, the mobile user is again relegated to a subset (albeit large subset, but still a subset) of the web like it is / was with iOS, WP7, and pre 2.2 Android. I recently did a presentation at a local user group on why I prefer Android tablets to iOS. I supplied 3 screen shots as examples from the iPad 2 showing I could not view the full pages without Flash. Contrary to the FUD, and internet lore, the pages are not for porn, or game sites. The three (of many I had) examples were for Boeing, ZDNet (ironically a review of the new iPhone 4S), and a Boston metro shopping center. I could not view all, or at least a significant portion of the pages without Flash. Since I was using an iPad 2, if a non-Flash alternative was available, it would have been displayed.

          I don’t have a dog in the HTML5 vs. Flash fight. All I want is the ability to view any web page, and any video I encounter on the web from my top of the line mobile devices. Without Flash, that goal is not possible, and will not be totally attainable for many years since some older (but still relevant) videos will probably never have a non-Flash alternative.

          • http://www.jimtravis.com jimtravis

            Just for clarification, the screen shots for the Flash needed pages were taken from iPad 2, the presentation at the user group utilized my Tab 8.9 with HTML dongle connected to HP HDMI to VGA adapter. The classroom ceiling projector had no direct HDMI connector. The presentation was very sharp, and vibrant even with the HDMI to VGA conversion, a kudo for the Tab 8.9.

            Link to slides used, most are self explanatory. Should open fine in any Android PPT viewer.

  • jamal adam

    About time. Thanks Google :)

  • AnthonyRyan

    Now just make Chrome available for Gingerbread and Froyo whoever is on that still

    • Greg

      That would be approximately everyone.

  • http://youtube.com/user/jawckamoe Marcus

    I just wish it was on devices below 4.0! Chrome is amazing, even if it doesn’t support flash!

  • Fulaman

    You guys who don’t have android 4.0 can get Android 4.0 by rooting your phone and installing said custom ROM.

    • ricky

      There’s currently no ICS ROM for the skyrocket :/

      • Fulaman

        That’s true, Developers w/o Source code can not make ROMs for LTE phones, that’s what bites. I feel your agony.

    • James

      A lack of ICS compatible drivers for cameras and other equipment are frustrating many who would like to compile or use an ICS ROM. We need to poke the equipment manufacturers to release the source for drivers for older parts so the dev community can update it.

  • http://theandroidappshow.com Lane

    And in the end, it was WebOS that had it right all along… sigh…

  • Wunako

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but with the way HTML 5 is going we wouldn’t need flash in our browser or phones soon enough?? Im not sure about it so its just based on what I understand.

    Overall this is just natural that chrome is our browser its very apple like as far as spreading its services, one eco system, the browser is great so far but would love to see some of the new features of ics browser make its way to chrome for android… either way i cant wait to see how it plays out.

    • Huy

      HTML5 is still far ahead and is not even finalized yet (probably not in the next few years). If there is no Flash for Chrome, how can I watch Youtbue HD?

      • http://mihai.discuta-liber.com/ tmihai20

        I give HTML5 2 years maximum before it will be embraced by all the major players (Google, Microsoft, not to mention Apple). I bet Jellybean (the next iteration of Android) will support HTML5 by default. For now, the bet is available for Android 4.0+ users and only in the following countries:

        United States
        United Kingdom

        Since ICS is installed on maybe 2% of all Android devices, this is one closed beta.

        • delinear

          HTML5 isn’t even a finalised technology yet – it’s still only a working draft, so at the moment browser vendors are trying to hit a moving target and often have to implement their “best guess” for how things should work (which might not be the same guess as other browser vendors).

          Lots of websites will continue to use Flash. They might already have invested too much in their websites to throw it away, or they might have a userbase on older browsers (IE6/7/8) that have limited HTML5 support, or they might want to keep costs down or have their own in-house Flash developers or want a write once, run anywhere solution.

          At the moment only Flash, buggy and slow as it is, universally meets these needs.HTML5 is relatively costly to implement, has cross platform issues, can be very slow on more limited systems, etc. I don’t see Flash going away in the near future, I just imagine more websites throwing up “mobile” versions that lack the additional content the Flash provides on the desktop and we’ll just get a two-tier experience, which is a real shame considering right now we get the best of both worlds.

          The sooner HTML5 kills Flash the better, but I think 2 years is extremely optimistic. We might just about get a finalised spec in 2 years, but we’re probably looking at 5 years minimum until sufficient people are migrated away from legacy browsers (we still see sites that have to support IE6 even over a decade after its release).

          • honourbound68

            2-5 years? i think that the huge increase in mobile browsing habits coupled the android joining ios in not supporting flash on their browsers will force feed the conversion to html5 sooner rather than later. there are $$ to be captured out there and if websites lag in switching over to html5, then they will be losing out on potential customers. think about it, even now, not every family has a desktop computer. BUT, what’s the smartphone penetration now?? with more and more smartphones, the focus is on mobile computing and if the 2 top players are not supporting flash on their browsers then everyone will follow

          • http://mihai.discuta-liber.com/ tmihai20

            @honourbound68 (I could not reply to your message, for some odd reason): That is what I was thinking. I know HTML5 it’s still a relatively new technology, but if players like Google and Apple will start supporting HTML5 instead of Flash, then everybody will follow. Flash lags like hell on my laptop from work, I opened a page with 20 or 30 embedded Flash videos and not even Chrome would not open it. It eventually opened it, after I let it for a few minutes. The laptop is not that old, Flash technology is not bad, it just requires a lot of horsepower, when it should not need it. I am tired of having to watch 480p videos just to have a smooth experience. I think it’s time for a new technology.

  • Vance

    Awesome! Using Chrome now on my Prime!!

  • YNWA

    Wow Chrome Beta is so fast and smooth! I can’t wait until they get all the bugs fixed. It will be nice to have Chrome officially on my phone. About 1 year late in my opinion.

  • andrpau

    Goodbye Opera Mini.

  • ZRod

    Chrome on my Transformer Prime is incredibly fast. The only thing keeping me from using it as my default is the lack of being able to change my UA as most are saying. Add in the UA and this is easily a ready to release browser, on a tablet mobile sites are horrid.
    Haven’t tested it on my Galaxy Nexus yet but I’m sure I’ll say the same thing.

    • nory826

      I think you’ll enjoy it on you galaxy nexus. I’ve been using chrome on my galaxy nexus as my default browser since yesterday and I love it! Butter smooth. It was a long wait for this , but well worth it.

  • madaboutandroid

    But it is a massive size. 16mb download unpacked on your phone It’s 50mb in size and can’t be moved to sd. Not only that but on my nexus s I end up with only 35mb of free memory no way of setting a home page, so for now will continue to use the built in browser.

    • BruceCLin

      Nexus S has 2Gb of app storage. How the heck did you end up with 35mb left?

      • mike

        because he is an ass clown.

  • lokidokie


  • thekaz

    Nice. I always thought the stock browser wasn’t “cool” enough .. not only in functionality, but in looks. This Chrome Browser not only works great for a Beta, but it is something I wouldn’t mind showing my iPhone friends.

  • kwills88

    I think saying lower versions of android will never see the chrome browser is bit of a stretch, considering we got one of the strongest dev teams around, I wouldn’t doubt that someone will get it working on lower versions of android. With that being said I can’t wait to see the progress android going to make down the road

  • Armas99

    its must be amazing
    i use Google Chrome in PC too
    so its must be can snyc each other

  • David

    Thank goodness. Maybe it’ll bring some standardization to the current fragmentation hell when making something like a Jquery Mobile app.

  • http://www.infotainmentempire.com pekosROB

    Assuming Flash is supported (or the rest of the web is converted to HTML 5 or whatever will work on Chrome Beta for Android), this is awesome. Downloaded it on my Transformer Prime this morning and will see how it works later today!

    • http://www.infotainmentempire.com pekosROB

      I should have said assuming Flash is eventually supported (or whatever else the web wants to use for video), it is awesome.

      Why do I even have a -1 for that?? I’m not talking bad about Chrome, I’m just saying it’s a bit ironic that Chrome Beta for Android doesn’t support Flash when that’s one of the biggest things about Android – it supports Flash! I know companies want to move to different formats but Flash support NOW would be kinda nice.

  • Justin

    I downloaded Chrome Beta for my Prime last night and it’s lacking in many many fields. First of all, it’s NOT the full browser that you see on your desktop/laptop. If that were the case, you’d be able to install extensions and Web Apps and have access to the Web App store. Part of what makes Chrome awesome are its extensions and Web Apps. Also, without the “Request Desktop Site”, this would not be a suitable replacement for the stock browser in ICS.

    I do however like how fast it is and how it syncs your bookmarks and open tabs from your desktop/laptop.

    • Shadowlore

      I agree with Justin here. Flash, as much as I love it (when it’s implemented properly), and disregarding the fact I have about 4 flash sites I use regularly, is one thing….

      Not being able to display a desktop version of a website is an entirely different issue. If I can’t view a desktop version of a site, I will find another browser.

      Currently, the default ICS browser handles that functionality VERY well, I sincerely hope they merge the 2 together.

  • Zer0-9

    Lack of flash support will keep me from using this browser as my standard. Opera is still the browser to beat for most of my mobile browsing tasks.

  • Trinhbo

    What is the big deal about lack of Flash support in Chrome? Generally Flash performs so poorly on mobile devices that Adobe finally saw the writing on the wall that it’s a losing battle and have dropped all active support for it. High quality videos through Flash are mostly choppy. Games and anything requiring interaction usually doesn’t work because it assumes you have a keyboard and they aren’t optimized for touch responses. HTML5 is the future.

    • Shadowlore

      The biggest problem with Flash (especially for mobile) is that people have no idea how to properly code for it.

      Find a website where Flash has been used properly, and it flows so nicely even on the mobile platform, you’ll often not even realize you’re using flash….

      The problem is that 90% of the people that use flash take bad shortcuts and just stumble their way through it.

      • mickjen

        Um, I’m a Nexus S 4G user, still running GB, and I installed the Adobe Flash Player from the Android Market, er Google Play, and I don’t have many flash issues?

        I am anxiously awaiting the ICS OTA, and want my Chrome on ALL my devices!

        I’ve noticed a LOT of changes recently,
        the privacy policy
        Chrome for Android
        Google voice search widget update
        Updates to apps, Maps, Wallet, etc.

        I get that Android and Linux are trying to merge and Google wants to unify features, starting with the ICS updates, but c’mon?!

        As a nexus user, I wanted updates. I can deal with bug fixes. I know how to report issues. You used to trust us as testers, Google. Remember, when you gave me a Cr-48? It was stolen and I traded a Kindle Fire to get another!!!

        Take care of your LOYALEST of customers. We don’t want an iPhone or , LAFF, Windows Phone. We want Android, with pure Google! Please, devote more time and energy to your OS updates, and for the love of all things Google, do it soon!

    • Fulaman

      I have an OG Galaxy S and Adobe Flash performs pretty well on it

  • Matt

    Without flash and no desktop version its pretty much useless to me since I’ll have to use another browser for flash and desktop support..

  • jack schulz

    Looks like Google is becoming Apple, telling,me what I want instead of asking me. I don’t want to boot to the web, and despite it’s shortcomings, I Do like flash. Guess I’ll just get rid of the smartphone and tablet and head back to windows and a laptop.

    • BruceCLin

      No where do they ask you to boot to the web. It is just a fuking browser, in beta.

    • mike

      ok. bye. gtfo whats your name? jackoff?

  • Oskar Wismierski

    So far the beta is horrible.. crashes every few seconds.. desktop is great!

  • Max.Steel

    No Flash = EPIC FAIL.

  • Slith

    Guess this negates the need for Chrome to Phone. This is going to make my life a lot easier. One browser to rule them all.

  • cristian cristiandonose

    Good so far. Haven’t needed flash yet.

  • general disarray

    I’m glad that google is bringing chrome to android and that they made the business decision to focus on html5 and not support flash. html5 is the future and chrome for android is being built with the future in mind, this was the right decision. I do, however, use flash on my mobile devices and have had great to decent experiences with it. While its not always perfect its nice to have the option. But whats great about android is that there will still be 3rd party browsers that support flash when you need it. I plan on using chrome as my main browser and have dolphin HD around too for those occasions when flash is necessary.

    • Fulaman

      Agreed 100%

  • Will Schmit

    The current problem isn’t Chrome, it is Android.
    It is impossible for a user to force Google to push the new OS to their device.

    We sit and patiently wait, while Google panders to the most modern smartphones, while those of us that bought $500 tablets in November (and were assured that we would have the newest OS by Christmas), sit, and wait…
    If it were Windows, we could just go to the website, and download it.

    • xenom

      If it were windows, you’d have to wait four years for an update :/

  • 00quantameister

    Dear Google,

    Bring Chrome to Android? Great. There’s just one problem.

    Sprint Nexus S 4G devices have yet to be upgraded. Therefore, I can’t even attempt to use Chrome. It’s been by my count 54 days since other Nexus devices have been upgraded, while Sprint Nexus S 4G devices continue to wait. Also, AT&T Nexus S devices have yet to be upgraded either.

    Please get your ducks in a row & get all Nexus devices all upgrade before Spring hits. Thank you.

    A concerned Nexus S 4G owner.

    • mike

      fuck you. thats what you get for jumping on the nexus bandwagon. fuck nexusowners and their sense of entitlement.

      • mickjen

        Sense of entitlement?! Try “breach of contract” for not only undelivered updates, but also for a COMPLETE LACK of communication………..


  • Kinchas

    The path is clear now. The end game is Chrome OS everywhere. May take a couple of years to get there….but there is no other choice. To be honest…why would you want it any other way. Log onto your phone….and the default browser takes you to everything you have in the cloud..updated from any other Chrome OS device you use. . As far as Flash. You can load other browsers…that maintain Flash…for as long as flash content exists. This is going to be a compelling ecosystem. I can’t wait.

  • http://None Javier Bastardo

    Stable release of Chrome was updated to 17.0.963.46 m today.

  • Nathan D.

    Chrome is so good and it doesn’t crash like the old one so in my book chrome beta is the best right now .

  • KRS_Won

    This is a BETA people. I don’t think Google promised all features up front. Idk if chrome will ever get Flash, it seems some dev could make a Flash 11 plug-in, but you don’t need to cry about it at this point. I think the real question should be about using Chrome if the future version lacks Flash support. Also, I don’t see it not getting Flash in the future, because YouTube vids rely heavily on it. And being a Google company, that would be like shooting yourself in the foot. I think the turning point will be once Google transfers YouTube to strictly HTML5.

  • aranea

    This news makes me root my Atrix and ICS on it soo much. I hope after Google’s acquisition Motorola stops forgetting their phones on the market!

    • mike

      how can you have suck ass sentence structure and then bust out a word like acquisition?

  • itguy426

    I installed it with the 4.04 update and love all of it. The only thing I don’t like about chrome for the phone is that you cannot request a desktop version of the site. That is one feature I use and like with the new browser in the ICS. Hopefully they will integrate that feature into the browser. I don’t worry about the flash part as we still have the other browser if we need to view flash content.

  • mustybooks

    starey man at 4:18 first vid anyone?

  • John Collins

    It is 4:05PM pst on 02.08.2012. I am writing this suicide note here on this blog to let people know that …j/p…i’m really bored at work, i’m just typing stupid shit. if you don’t like it, KEEP SCROLLING DOWN! :)

    • Ray

      John Collins. You are an idiot sir! +1 for being somewhat funny…somewhat.

  • classic_hero


  • Jorge Vieira

    the scrolling is the best on any android browser!

  • Guest

    I like this new move, even though the robot is cooler than some kind of samus aran character rolled into a ball (chrome). Today I realized chrome can play mp3 files – so my main question would be “how would chrome os handle scenarios, like playing music/editing documents, when offline.” I haven’t really played around with chrome os, but does it have an offline mode?

  • Ken

    Wow…who didn’t see this coming? http://androidmarketcentral.com

  • Sam

    It’s funny reading these comments. Every time a new version of Firefox comes out, majority of comments are fail or epic fail. Google does it and no problem.

  • RedmondHell

    The best browser is coming to my GT-I9100 !

  • kicost

    Android is going up stairs VERY fast :)
    Love It !

  • Amjoco

    Should never had a team invest time into making this without having the idea that flash would not be used. It is pretty much worthless if every site you go to has “No plug-in available to display this content.”
    Going back to the 4.0 browser where I can’t import bookmarks. Lesser of the 2 broke browsers I guess.

  • Rahul Mehta

    yup available to download . Got the news from http://maxhungama.com/archives/4621

  • Nick Halbrook

    Google can do and say what they want [and they do]; but, saying chrome will be the standard android browser does not make it the standard if it does not work [and as of the 4.2.2 update they sent today it still does not]. What ironically is the standard is Firefox – simply because it works.

  • Marius

    Well, I was using Chrome, so I guess that means I’ll have to move to Firefix. If I am am forced to pick one I will pick Firefox rather than being forced to chose Chrome.

  • luke

    Chrome browser doesn’t have automatic signin via pulldown menu for accounts on your android system. Android browser does.
    So there is no contest.
    Chrome browser… disabled. Nice try anyway.

  • manudhiman


  • marcus dhondt

    ben ik nu eindelijk verlost van die vervelende ask.com en kan ik nu verder google chrome als standaardbrowser gebruiken?

  • Attanar

    2 years later, here we are, developers dealing with the stock browser crap all the time.

    Thanks Google.