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.
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.
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.