Chrome 20 Updated. Chrome Available On Android And iOS

Google have been very busy in the last week ensuring that Chrome is now available for all major operating systems.

First they released a stable version for Android devices, then an update to Chrome 20 for computers and now an iOS version for iPhone and iPad.

Chrome For Android – Moving from beta (testing) to a stable version, Chrome for Android still requires Android 4.0 ICS or higher so it is not available for users of Gingerbread 2.3 or Honeycomb 3.0. That’s millions of Android users that it’s missing out on. Top features include:

  • Sign in to Chrome to sync your open tabs, bookmarks, passwords, and omnibox data from your computer to your phone or tablet.
  • Send pages from Chrome on your computer to Chrome on your phone or tablet with one click and read them on the go, even when you’re offline.
  • Open and quickly switch between an unlimited number of tabs. On your phone, flip through tabs the way you would fan a deck of cards. On your tablet, swipe from edge to edge to switch tabs.
  • Browse privately in Incognito mode.

Whilst performance overall is generally smooth and quick, this Android version does not support Flash which may be a deal breaker for some. Despite Adobe’s attempts to kill off mobile Flash (it will not be supported past Android 4.0.x), Flash is not dead yet and many sites still rely heavily on it.

Some early reports from users point to bugs which have yet to be ironed out – expect further updates in the near future. More info is available from Google Play here.

Fix For Chrome 20 – Chrome 20 has been updated to 20.0.1132.47 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome Frame.

This version is a fix to disable some of its GPU acceleration features on Mac hardware containing the Intel HD 4000 graphics chip (e.g. the new Macbook Airs). The fix prevents a resource leak causing a “kernel panic” on that hardware.

“Kernel panic” is what Windows users would call a crash – effectively it is the video subsystem that has failed. Such a kernel panic is not implicitly Chrome’s fault – it’s more likely to be an error in Apple’s OS X kernel or Intel’s video drivers which has always been there but is only now being called into play by Chrome’s hardware acceleration features.

That said, it is the browser that most users will blame…

This change should only be a temporary one until Google can liaise with Apple/Intel to find and fix the root cause of the issue on OS X. Users can get the new version by clicking the ‘wrench’ (spanner) icon then ‘About Google Chrome’ to check for updates – the new version will be downloaded and installed automatically if you don’t already have it.

Chrome For iPhone, Ipad and iPod Touch – Now available on iOS 4.3 or later but suffers from the same two problems that affect all non-Safari browsers:

1. It is forced to use a slow version of the WebKit rendering engine. Apple restricts the Nitro JavaScript engine (4 times faster in JavaScript benchmarks) to its own Safari browser – allegedly for security reasons.

It should therefore be no quicker than any other third party browser – and a long way off the pace of Safari.

2. Because you can’t assign a default app in iOS, the default browser will remain as Safari – so any webpage links in emails or apps will still open up in Safari, not Chrome.

Again, this is forced on it by Apple’s restrictions – you can’t change Safari from being the default browser.

Personally I think these monopolistic restrictions by Apple are no different to the tactics that used to land Microsoft in so much legal trouble. Hopefully Apple will change their policy (or be forced to by legal action) to create a fair and level playing field for all competing browsers.

Despite this, Chrome on the iPhone and iPad has the same features as the Android version which may be enough to secure its place at the iOS top table:

  • Sign in to Chrome to sync your open tabs, bookmarks, passwords and omnibox data from your computer to your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.
  • Send pages from Chrome on your computer to your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad with one click and read them on the go, even if you’re offline.
  • Open and quickly switch between an unlimited number of tabs. On your iPhone and iPod touch, flip through tabs the way you would fan a deck of cards. On the iPad, swipe from edge to edge to switch tabs.
  • Open a tab in Incognito to browse without saving your history.

For desktop and Google account users, the synergy of these features across all their devices may be enough to propel Chrome into a more serious rival to Safari – according to Metro it has already “rocketed straight to the top of the iTunes app store chart“.

More info on the iOS version is available from iTunes here.

Conclusion

Google’s attempt at browser domination continues apace with all major types of device and operating system now officially supported.

The upcoming launches of its Nexus 7 tablet and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS also point to Google surging forward with new products and major updates – Microsoft and Apple take note.

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