Wednesday 8 February 2012

1st Impressions: Google Chrome Beta on Android ICS

Turns out I was right: Google have been working on Mobile Chrome. (I assume it will eventually replace the deficient default Android browser.)
As a x-platform HTML5 webapp developer, I have been burned BADLY by the default Android Browser. It sucked in four main ways:
- internal scrolling widgets (like iScroll)
- form rendering
- non-GPU accelerated 2D transforms
- inconsistent implementation from different OEMs.

The ICS default browser was a slight improvement in forms, but still full of rendering glitches and obviously not utilizing GPU acceleration for ops like scrolling and map panning.
First impressions on Android Chrome: Logistically we should see almost no fragmentation through Chrome than we do through the mangled browser implementations we are getting from the OEMs. (However, it remains to be seen whether some phones (typically HTC) will still omit to implement multi-touch in the browser from ICS forward, but it's a real problem for advanced web apps today.) Form rendering is better, rendering glitches are reduced, but performance is still on par with the ICS default browser. What gives? Chrome claims to implement hardware accelerated rendering? Compare Google or Bing maps on the web with the native implementation and you'll notice obvious lag. Then browse to the same URL with iOS Safari and you'll see how it should be done.
C'Mon Google - We expect better than this. You're LAGGING behind. (Pun intended.)


  1. Who are you? Do you even own a GN? The stock ICS browser does appear to have GPU acceleration as I see almost no stuttering during panning and scrolling. This is opposed to Chrome Beta where it seems ok in portrait mode, but stutters noticeably in landscape mode. You are way off.

  2. I see your point now except why you are so obsessed with map scrolling in a mobile browser. Besides of course that you just are and you develop these things when no one cares about them and they use the Google maps app.

    For normal every day browser page scrolling, the ICS browser is almost flawlessly smooth now (4.0.4) and in my opinion better than mobile safari because it supports flash and you can get up and down your pages much faster.

  3. Why is this important to me?
    (Why is Flash so important to you? We all have different priorities.)
    Because it exposes a fallacy that is being made by all the glowing reports of Android in the reviews: that it is close to par with its greatest competitor, the iPhone. Clearly there are some fundamental issues when it doesn't perform the way it should. And if everyone just keeps on pretending that everything's fine, it won't get better.
    And for HTML5 developers it needs to get better. (When I said 'burned badly' in this post, I mean it. I put my professional reputation on the line based on the HTML5 compliance reports of the Android browser. I was sorely disappointed.)