We know that Android’s native browser app and Google’s Chrome desktop browser have been slated to merge for some time now, and it appears that some concrete efforts are being made in that direction. A version of Chrome that runs on Android is in the extreme early stages of development at Google, with the updated user interface already completed. With Android’s tablet push in full swing, a more capable native browser app could be a major boon for the platform.
Google’s intentions to integrate its desktop browser, Chrome OS and the relatively feature-light Android browser have been suspected for months. An important clue to the more practical applications of the project came with the Nexus Prime app leak, which included “ChromeBookmarksSyncAdapter.apk”. The inclusion of a bookmark sync (a feature which mobile versions of Opera and Firefox already have in place) indicates that while a Chrome browser almost certainly isn’t ready for Ice Cream Sandwich, the beginnings of the integration are already well underway.
It’ll be interesting to see how Google positions Chrome on Android, considering that they’re already marketing netbook-style hardware running Chrome as an operating system. While extensions are certainly possible on a mobile browser a la Dolphin and Firefox, some of the heavier web apps probably wouldn’t be practical. Indeed, in the case of popular apps like Angry Birds and TweetDeck, versions already exist for both Android and Chrome OS. In any case, a more powerful native browser can only make Android, and in particular Android tablets, more compelling.
Chrome for Android is still a long way off, and we probably won’t see any major software additions until Android “Jelly Bean” at least.