As previously reported, Google launched Chrome for Android in beta today. Unfortunately, not all Android users will get to try it out yet. It's only available in select countries and languages for devices running Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich.
It's a start though. This represents more than just allowing Chrome users to use the browser on their mobile devices. It could very well mean the beginning of a more integrated Google experience, somewhat parallel to what Google is doing by integrating Google+ into everything and consolidating its privacy policies.
Chrome is a browser, but it's also an operating system in the form of Chrome OS. Android, of course, is also an operating system, and questions have been circulating around how Google would proceed in the future with two separate operating systems pretty much since Chrome OS was revealed.
Co-founder Sergey Brin has actually said that Android and Chrome OS would likely converge over time. I'd consider getting the Chrome browser on Android a first step in that direction.
Last year, we already saw some early stages of Chrome OS-based tablets.
There's even a rumor that LG may be working on a Chrome OS tablet.
A merger of operating systems would likely also mean a merger of app markets - Android Market meets Chrome App Store.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. So far, all we've really got is a beta version of the Chrome browser for Ice Cream Sandwich. There's a developer site for it here.
"Chrome for Android brings support for many of the latest HTML5 features to the Android platform," says Chrome engineering manager Arnaud Weber. "With hardware-accelerated canvas, overflow scroll support, strong HTML5 video support, and new capabilities such as Indexed DB, WebWorkers and Web Sockets, Chrome for Android is a solid platform for developing web content on mobile devices."
"In addition to support for the latest web technologies, we hope to make interactive web content super easy to develop," adds Weber. "Chrome for Android introduces remote debugging through Chrome Developer Tools to make it simple for developers to debug web sites running live on their mobile devices."
In the following video, Google engineer Boris Smus demonstrates remote debugging in it:
Features of Chrome For Android include fast browsing and searching with the beloved Omnibox functionality and instant page loading. There's also tabbed browsing, with unlimited tabs, link previews, tab/bookmark syncing, and the ability to send pages from your computer to your phone or tablet with a click via the Chrome to Mobile extension. It also includes auto-sign in for Google services.
Here are some more details from Googlers:
It even comes with incognito mode, which lets you browse without leaving traces of your history, cache or local storage.
The browser can be downloaded from here.