Back when I reviewed the Nexus 7, I mentioned that I was disappointed with Chrome for Android. It often felt slow, would hang, and typing in the address bar and input fields on webpages would lag. Scrolling wasn’t always optimal, and sometimes, it would simply freeze up altogether. We’re several months down the line now – has the situation improved for me?
This is what I wrote about Chrome on the Nexus 7:
Force closes I haven’t seen yet, but during page loading, the browser still often becomes unresponsive, and the loading itself will often take longer than it should – especially considering the quad-core processor and 120Mbit/s connection I’m on. This is not just the case with notoriously slow and sluggish sites like The Verge, but also prim ‘n’ proper sites like OSNews or Daring Fireball.
Furthermore, typing in the address bar is an exercise in frustration, as it will often take seconds for the device to catch up with your typing (it seems searching through bookmarks, history, and relevant Google search queries slows everything down). The close tab button is also far too small, and will often not register your touch – or it will register, but only a few seconds later. This kind of touch delay is only found in Chrome, and nowhere else. It’s puzzling.
I then expressed hope the situation would improve with updates, but, and let’s just get it out of the way, it hasn’t. Chrome on the Nexus 7 is still laggy, websites make it unresponsive, loading is slow, typing in the address bar is an exercise in frustration due to input lag, and the interface is still very touch-hostile – small targets – and whoever came up with the idea to put the small close tab button right next to the small new tab button ought to be fired on the spot.
I was already unhappy about this when I got my Nexus 7, but now that we’re months ahead, and several Chrome updates and one Android update later, there’s simply no excuse. Google needs to get its – yes, I’m saying it – shit together and fix this mess of a mobile browser. The entire Android experience on the Nexus 7 is pretty awesome and has few issues, but Chrome ruins everything. The browser is a crucial aspect of a tablet for me, so this seriously diminishes the Nexus 7’s user experience for me.
On my Galaxy SII, it’s even worse. All the same issues – but all of them way worse, and to boot, the odd force close or complete Chrome crash. However, my SII runs alpha code – CyanogenMod 10 nightlies – so I can’t blame Google blindly for that one. However, I am actually assuming this is all Google’s fault too, since the rest of CM10 is pretty damn good.
Yesterday, I finally had enough. My SII has made the full switch to the Firefox beta, and while I dislike Firefox’ horrid interface and miss the tab synchronisation with my iMac and ZenBook, the browsing experience is just so much better. Faster, smoother, more stable. My Nexus 7 will remain on Chrome for a while (tab synchronisation is more important for me on a tablet than on my smartphone), but if everything on my SII goes smoothly with Firefox, the N7 will follow in its footsteps.
If the issues with Chrome persist beyond the coming months, I will look into dumping Chrome for my iMac and ZenBook as well. I like the cross-device integration in modern browsers, and as much as I like desktop Chrome, I will dump it in a heartbeat if Google continues to refuse to fix mobile Chrome.
Google, please fix Chrome for Android. It’s a massive blemish on an otherwise great mobile operating system. I happened to play with an iPhone 4 yesterday, and was instantly reminded of what a good mobile browser is like. Take notes, Google. Apple is eating your lunch there.