19
Oct
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Leading up to last night's Ice Cream Sandwich announcement, there were rumblings that perhaps Chrome would make its Android debut with the latest iteration of Google's mobile OS. Unfortunately, those rumors turned out to be false, but the new browser that Google has cooked up looks pretty awesome, and packs in a lot of notable features.

First off, the browser has been redesigned. Personally, I think it looks (and functions) much better than its Gingerbread counterpart. Instead of simply having a bookmark button and address bar up top, the new browser has the address bar, a tabs button, and a menu button. The tabs button will display all open tabs, and allow you to add bookmarks. Similar to what we've seen elsewhere, the user can swipe across a tab to close it. I'm glad to see a more streamlined implementation of tabbed browsing for Android phones, as Gingerbread's browser makes it somewhat of a hassle.

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Another huge improvement is the option to force the browser to display the desktop version of any webpage. With such a luxuriously large screen, it would be silly to exclusively load mobile sites, so it's refreshing to see an easier method of viewing full webpages. Additionally, the new browser will sync your bookmarks with Chrome, allowing you to access your favorite pages from anywhere.

Further still, Android's new browser lets you save pages for offline viewing, which, to me, seems like an awesome feature. This should come in handy for mobile boarding passes, subway maps, or pages that you may want to share when in an area without data coverage. For those concerned with privacy, the ICS browser also allows for incognito browsing, bringing it even closer to the functionality of Chrome.

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While it isn't exactly the Chrome experience many of us had hoped for, Ice Cream Sandwich's revamped browser brings a lot to the table, and really adds to the polished, intuitive feel of ICS as a whole.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Aaron

    Download? Will it work on other androids?

  • Rick

    I really want all the ICS apps for my lonely Froyo Droid Charge.

  • Chahk

    I want it just for the bookmark sync.

    • BobbyPhoenix

      Try X-Marks. Works great across Android and desktop browsers. I've been using it since it came out.

      • timmy

        except X-marks isn't free to use on mobile phones

  • Mattia

    how about hardware acceleration for buttery smooth panning and zooming? is it enabled in the default browser?

    • Deltaechoe

      Ics is all accelerated so everything will be smooth like soft serve ice cream

      • Mattia

        I hope the MIUI team does a good job:)

    • Bab

      As we can see in several Youtube videos, ICS browser is as fast as hell :)

    • Rick

      Yes. Android is doing what iOS and WM7 is already doing with hardware acceleration enabled by default.

      There are some other features that are in ICS that are great to have.

  • Hotmann

    So if I understand correctly, you can switch an individual tab to desktop mode? If so I very much like that idea instead of having everything switched.

    • quick

      That's correct. I also much prefer this as well...

      If I set desktop to be default, there are some pages that look like crap, notably google search (which is my home page). So this will be a welcome addition...

  • http://tantrajnaan.com Robert Dunn

    One of my top favorites about the new browser is the "request desktop site" toggle. Yes, it's handy on the phone, but it really shines on the tablet. I cannot wait for an ICS update to my XOOM. I'll go back to stock if I have to.

  • https://plus.google.com/117702410245683101961/posts Lucian Armasu

    Hopefully, once Google adds Chrome to Android, we'll also see updates to it every 6 weeks. It might come in 4.5 or 5.0, whatever the version will be at Google I/O this year in late April, especially since Google I/O is also a Chrome event. It would make a lot of sense to announce Chrome for Android then.

  • ManMythLegend

    Any signs of "quick controls" best browser feature on honeycomb but its not on as default.
    Love to see that for easy one handed browsing.

  • http://lankycyril.com/ Cyril

    Those screenshots are huge, man,

  • http://www.joshuanaylor.com Joshua Naylor

    So I wonder... now that the browser supports user agent switching - do you think services like hulu & grooveshark will work without having to pay for their mobile versions?

    • quick

      The browser has always had user agent switching, but it was buried in menus, along with other browsers having the agent switcher as well, none of them get past hulu (don't know about grooveshark). So no luck there sorry.

      This is just an easier way to toggle back and forth between user agents...

  • richard

    It is not anything new, sorry. All these are in android three and have been for a while