Did you know that the default browser on your Android phone is not Chrome? Instead, it's the Android browser. However, the Chrome browser is finally available for many Android devices. As you might expect, Chrome is still just as fast and just as easy to use. Its features include:
- Unique tab system
- Lightning fast searches
- Google sign in to sync bookmarks, etc
- Incognito (browse privately)
The only caveat is that the Chrome browser is only available for devices running Android 4.0 or higher. So, if you're running Ice Cream Sandwich, do yourself a favor and install Chrome right away. Let's take a look at how to install it and what it has to offer.
The installation of Chrome is fairly straightforward. Just follow these steps:
- Open up the Google Play Store on your Android device
- Search for "chrome" (no quotes)
- Tap the entry for Chrome (by Google, Inc.)
- Tap Install
- Tap Accept & download
Once the installation is complete, open up the app drawer and tap the Chrome icon to launch the app.
The usage of Chrome is fairly simple — it's a browser, after all. But there are certain aspects of the browser that deserve a closer look. First, let's examine how you work with tabs.The way tabs work with Chrome on Android is quite cool. As you can see in Figure A, the Chrome UI is pretty basic and doesn't actually display tabs. Instead, you'll see a small square to the right of the address bar with the number of tabs you have open. Figure A
Here you see TechRepublic opened in Chrome on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy S III.If you only have a single tab opened, the tab indicator will display a 1. If you tap on that indicator, you can then add tabs (Figure B). To do this, tap the New tab button in the top left. Figure B
Here you see recently opened sites along with the New tab button.Once you have more than one tab opened, things get interesting. Each page is represented by a movable tile (Figure C). The more tabs you have opened, the more tiles you'll have to deal with. How you hold the phone (landscape or portrait) will dictate how you move the tiles. Figure C
In portrait mode, move the tiles up and down to get to the tab you want.
If you're in portrait mode, you can close a tab by flicking the desired tab to the left or the right. If you're in landscape mode, you can do the same by flicking a tile up or down.
Like its desktop brother, Chrome for Android also includes an incognito mode (as does the built-in Android browser). This mode allows you to browse without leaving behind any trace. You can have both a standard and an incognito browser open at the same time (they'll remain within the same UI). In order to open up an incognito tab, tap the menu button, and then tap New Incognito tab.You'll notice the incognito tabs have a different color scheme (Figure D). Figure D
The incognito tabs have a blue theme, whereas the standard tabs have a light gray theme.
To move back and forth between standard and incognito tabs, follow these steps:
- Tap on the tab indicator button
- If in the standard tabs, slide the tiles to the left to access the incognito mode
- If in the incognito tabs, slide the tiles to the right to access the standard mode
Chrome Sign in
You can also sync your Android Chrome to your desktop Chrome accounts. This will ensure all bookmarks are in sync across the board. Here's how:
- Open Chrome
- Tap the menu button
- Tap Settings
- Tap SIGN IN TO CHROME (bottom of the screen, as shown in Figure E)
- Either select the Google account to sync with or enter your Google credentials (whichever you are prompted for)
This is also where you'll find all of the other Chrome settings.
After using the Chrome browser on Android, I've pretty much dropped the built-in browser. I like the tab interface better, plus Chrome renders faster and the interface is cleaner (with the inclusion of the 'Most recent viewed' icons being a big plus). Give Chrome a try on your Android 4.0 device, and see if you don't leave the built-in browser behind for good. And don't forget, for more interaction between Chrome and your phone, give Chrome To Phone a try (see "Chrome to Phone: Interact with your mobile Android device from your desktop").
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.