Google Chrome headed for Ice Cream Sandwich Android devices

Google's popular Chrome browser is finally coming to Android-based phones, but only if you have the very latest version of the operating system.

Google says the new mobile version of Chrome is still in beta and will only be released for now onto devices that run on Google 4.0, a.k.a., "Ice Cream Sandwich." As Nancy Gohring of IDG News Service notes, only 1% of Android devices are currently equipped with Ice Cream Sandwich, so it may be a while before Chrome is available on most Android devices.

Tech argument: Browser wars

The Chrome browser made its debut in 2008 and has since risen to become the second-most popular browser in the world, but has always been absent from Google's popular mobile operating system. Instead, Android users have had to suffice with a basic Android browser or third-party browsers such as Firefox or Dolphin.

But now Google is promising users that they'll soon be able to experience the same quality of browsing on their Android smartphones that they experience on their desktop computers. If your Android device is signed into your Google account, your Android Chrome browser will automatically open up with the tabs that you have open on your desktop. The mobile version of Chrome will also sync up bookmarks on your current browser and give autocomplete suggestions based on frequently visited Web sites.

Google is also making a big deal out of the browser's privacy features as it gives users the ability to go incognito so they can browse the web without Google tracking what they're searching for. Google has come under fire for impending changes to its privacy policies that will allow Google to share information across multiple services, including Gmail, YouTube and Google search. Google has defended itself by noting that it does not sell its users' personal information and has said that users can still keep their search data separate from their email data by signing out of their Google account before searching on Google or YouTube.

While Chrome has been a success story for Google, it is still surpassed in overall usage by Microsoft's Internet Explorer, as web analytics firm StatCounter recently found that various versions of IE were used by roughly 40% of Web users in the last week of November 2011. Chrome came in second place worldwide with just over 26% of the global market share, followed closely by Firefox, which took 25% of the global market share. Browsers such as Apple's Safari and Opera both accounted for less than 10% of mobile browser use worldwide.

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