The question on everyone's lips since the first versions of Android was released has been; "where is chrome?". Now, we are one step closer to an answer.
Today, the Android team has committed themselves to working more closely with the WebKit community- the people behind the Chromium Open-Source Project. They have announced that a new open-source version of the application will be created. Hopefully this will allow Google to live up to its truly "open" name.
"We would like to give an update about WebKit on Android. A while ago, we started the effort to upstream the Android port of WebKit. For a variety of reasons, this work took longer than anticipated and was never finished. We realize that the incomplete Android port that exists today in WebKit ToT has caused quite a bit of confusion and inconvenience to the project as a whole and we are very sorry for that," wrote Andrei Popescu.
The details of the steps to making the Android browser are quite complicated. Here is the technical stuff.
"We plan to start by setting up a webkit.org build bot that will compile Chromium’s DRT for Android using the Android NDK, SDK and toolchain. We anticipate a reasonably small set of changes to the Chromium port to achieve this. We’re fully committed to maintaining this new flavor of the Chromium port of WebKit and having a build bot up and running as soon as possible will make this an easier task. At the same time, we will be removing the existing incomplete Android port. This includes the Android-specific code in WebCore/platform/android, as well as any code guarded by the PLATFORM(ANDROID) macro."
The next version of Android, Ice-Cream Sandwich, could be set to be released as soon as October of this year. I think it is possible that Google could create a version of 'Chrome for Android' in that timespan, so I don't see why it would not be included in the release. If Ice-Cream Sandwich is released after October, I would certainly expect an open-source browser to appear in it. If it is released sooner than expected, I would think the new browser would be pushed to the phone via an OTA update or via the Android Market. We saw several 'stock' applications leaked on the Market a few months ago and it does seem Google intends to provide all applications and updates via the Android Market.
© Graham Macphee 2011