Wow. It’s finally here. And it’s everything, as a user, I would’ve expected. It’s smooth, fast, and it seamlessly works with the desktop version. Yet…something bothers me about it. I don’t care that it’s only for Android 4.0 – there are legitimate technical reasons for that choice, so I’ll let it slide. It’s sad that not even 3.x devices got this release, but if Apple doesn’t put Siri on the iPhone 4 this isn’t even close to that kind of offense. I’m not even going to complain about the lack of Flash because that would need support from Adobe – something they’ve decided not to do. And still…something bothers me…
Bother 1: Chromium
Where’s the Chromium counterpart? One of the best parts of Chrome was the fact that although it was a proprietary solution, there was a version of it that pushed the web forward. An open source solution that others could use to implement better browsers in the future. That’s what I always imagined Chrome stood for – pushing the web forward. Not just another browser. This was Google’s chance to help others innovate in mobile browsers. And yet…nothing. I know it may not be a big deal in the user sense, but as someone who’s followed the Chromium projects and has been excited about things like native client and web intents, this was quite a big disappointment. I really hope we see the open source version of Chromium for Android soon.
Bother 2: Promises left behind?
At Google I/O 2010, Vic Gundotra stood on the stage showing off an exciting future for the Android browser. It would use the accelerometer, the camera, among other hardware-level functionality right in the browser. On the web. I’ve been incredibly excited for this; in fact, more excited than I was for Chrome for Android. I wanted to see what the web would become on mobile devices with such empowerment. Yet, here we are nearly two years from that promise. My concern is – will the development of Chrome slow down this initiative or will it be merged together? I really hope it’s the latter – mobile needs this.
Bother #3: AOSP Browser
This one actually roots from bother #1. The lack of an open source Chrome means that it won’t be packaged in the Android Open Source Project. In other words, the browser in the open source will continue to be the one we find in Ice Cream Sandwich. That means something worse – other than bug fixes, we probably won’t see any real improvements in the open source browser. If you aren’t on a Google-sealed device, you aren’t getting Chrome in the future because it’ll be packaged with GApps. Ugh. Yeah, that sucks. That sucks really bad. In fact, it’s so bad that Cyanogenmod developer Keyan Mobli spoke on the same subject earlier today. It’s a big deal, and we need to know the future of the AOSP browser as soon as possible.
Speaking too soon?
Maybe I’m thinking too much about the development end of things, but it’s one of the main reasons I follow Google so closely. Android and Chrome were two products that I always felt were meant to push the innovation in each of their respective domains. But today, I felt as if they took a step back for a second and it kind of let me down.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m just as excited as most Android users are that this has finally happened. I love using it and I’m so glad I can finally use my favorite browser on my Android device. But I can’t just say I’m happy with the whole situation.
Hopefully I’m speaking too soon. Hopefully.