Google has announced the Android browser will move to be more like Chrome - but it is still missing the opportunity to make Chrome a feature of Android.
What is the name of the Android browser?
Good question and the answer seems to be "Browser". Which is very strange once you notice that Google has a lot to gain by pushing the Chrome brand name on every platform it can. Things like this do give you the impression that Google isn't entirely about joined up development.
The good news is that Google has now decided to support Webkit which is, of course at the heart of the Chrome browser as well as Safari and a number of other well known browsers. The current Android browser is based on an earlier fork of the WebKit browser than Chrome and this results in some difficulties in getting web apps to work in a uniform manner.
One of the odd things about this announcement is the way it was announced - as a post to the WebKit community rather than a full Google blog.:
We plan to start by setting up a webkit.org build bot that will compile Chromium’s DRT for Android using the Android NDK, SDK and toolchain. We anticipate a reasonably small set of changes to the Chromium port to achieve this. We’re fully committed to maintaining this new flavor of the Chromium port of WebKit and having a build bot up and running as soon as possible will make this an easier task. At the same time, we will be removing the existing incomplete Android port. This includes the Android-specific code in WebCore/platform/android, as well as any code guarded by the PLATFORM(ANDROID) macro.
What all this means is that the Android browser will be even more like Chrome than it is already - just another flavour of Chrome like the Linux and Windows versions.
However, all of this doesn't really promise the Chrome experience on Android and it is something of a missed opportunity for Google. A simple rebranding of the Android browser would add a large market share to Chrome's statistics. In addition a Chrome app store for Android would be another plus point for developing for Chrome.
It all goes to show that Google really isn't the master strategist some suppose.
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