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Google Open Sources Android’s Browser – Better Mobile Browsing On the Way?

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Given that Google makes a browser called Chrome, it’s always seemed odd that the browser in their mobile operating system, Android, doesn’t have a browser called Chrome. Also a little confusing: why that browser isn’t very good. However, it looks like Google is taking steps to address at least one of those problems. The company announced that they would release a version of the browser to the open source community to build upon.

Android’s browser is based on WebKit, an open source engine, as is Google Chrome (and Safari and the iPad’s browser). Until now the Android team hasn’t worked closely with the WebKit community; that’s about to change, according to Google’s Andrei Popescu.

android browser chromium

In his post he notes that the Android browser is moving closer to Chrome code-wise. By bringing the Android browser’s code into the Chromium project, WebKit developers won’t have to work on two totally different systems when dealing with the browsers.

What will this mean for the Android browser going forward? It’s not totally clear, but it looks like we’re in for better web apps, web pages that look and work the same even on mobile browsers, and perhaps some better Android browsers.

It’s a little confusing for non-devs and users won’t likely see the results for a while. But don’t you feel better knowing that a better mobile browsing experience is (probably) coming?

K. T. is a lover of technology, gadgets, and all things geek. She has the enviable job of playing with evaluating mobile tech and apps all day. Follow K. T. on Twitter @KTBradford, on Google+ and Tumblr or email her via her website, KTBradford.com.

22 Comments

  1. Rich Allen

    08/23/2011 at 3:11 pm

    actually, having used almost all the other smartphone browsers, I like the one on Android best. It does three important things very well. 1) It perfectly renders sites in the smaller format, so the sites look the way the designer intended. 2) It forces text flow to fit the screen size, so the text flow is always perfect for however you choose to zoom and view the site. This is not really true of any of the others. 3) It runs Flash beautifully. I have never had an issue with Flash in the native Android browser. I even play Flash games, and the re-size and rendering is perfect. If there is one thing I would like to change, I would prefer to be asked before it sends me to a mobile version of the site.

    • quillaja

      08/23/2011 at 4:20 pm

      I agree too. I’ve always been surprised at how well it renders pages faithfully. There is only 1 thing I think it really needs: Sync bookmarks with Chrome. This is a no-brainer since every other thing on Android syncs with one’s google account. Otherwise, general speed and efficiency improvements are always welcome.

    • ryan

      08/24/2011 at 2:46 am

      Too bad it isn’t GPU accelerated. Here’s to hoping this decision will bring better optimization to the browser.

  2. Charles-Henri Debeur

    08/23/2011 at 4:13 pm

    Dido… and here I was almost “trying” to figure out how to turn my satisfaction in “oh, it actually sucks”…

  3. K. T. Bradford

    08/23/2011 at 5:00 pm

    I’m outnumbered :) Every time I test a new phone I go with the stock browser, find it lacking, and eventually download something else. 

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