It took *only* four versions of Android to inspire Google's developers to bring its signature browser, Chrome, to Android devices, but after an initial hands-on, it was worth the wait.
Bad news first: this app requires your Android device to have Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which is only available after rooting or on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Asus Transformer Prime, and Motorola Xoom.
But if you're lucky enough to have it, you're in for a real treat. Chrome for Android Beta is so fast, so intuitive, and so, well, pretty, I'm already (dangerously) in love with its potential.
It lacks some of the basic features seen in other mobile browsers, which I've noted below, but includes all your favorite Chrome elements like Incognito browsing, tabs, and unified search/address bar (called the omnibox). Furthermore, Google claims this is the first multiprocess mobile browser, which lets you log into a site using different credentials in each tab. In other words, if one tab crashes, the entire app won't crash.
I can't emphasize enough how lightning fast this browser is, even compared to Android's stock browser. Like its desktop counterpart, Chrome for Android features an intelligent omnibox with Auto-fill and Auto-Complete features to make searches even faster. It also incorporates the default predictive Android keyboard.
It pains me a bit to gush over the design and intuitiveness of an app that only 0.6 percent of you can use but...holy cow. In mobile Chrome tabs aren't displayed side by side like in the desktop version. Instead they're splayed out like a deck of cards, which you can flip through or swipe to open and close.
Missing Features: Chrome for Android is still in beta, so hopefully the Android Development team will incorporate some features that are now standard in mobile browsers: support for add-ons, User Agent settings, content aggregator, user-made gestures, and a better download manager. Nor does this support Adobe Flash, given that Adobe ceased development for mobile Flash last November. You'll have to rely on your stock Android browser or another browser to access Flash sites.
For more, see our Alternative Mobile Browsers: Opera, Bolt, and MobiUs.
Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.