Many have wondered why Android does not feature the Chrome browser, or for that matter, why Google developed Chrome OS alongside and separate from Android. Thus far Android has simply featured “Browser,” which like Chrome is based on the open source WebKit. Unlike Chrome and its Chromium counterpart, however, Android’s browser comes in only one flavor; closed source. That is about to change.
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 Android team is committed to releasing a slightly modified Android browser to be fully open source. Certain Android specific code will likely be removed before that release, but it’s obvious that Google is trying to reunite the projects in a move that could herald the arrival of branded Chrome on Android. Convergence between the Android browser and Chrome is practically inevitable. Aside from Honeycomb tablets bringing a more PC-like experience to browsing, Google TV, soon to be updated to Android Honeycomb, has a browser that sports the Chrome brand. With that pending, how long can Google keep them separate? Besides, having a WebKit based Chrome on Android devices will make work easier for web developers to get content on Android, and of course I’m sure Google would love to see their Chrome browser advertised on every Android device.