When we think of Google and browsers we usually think of the latest Chrome build, the fastest real world use desktop browser around. While the browser currently shipping on Android is nothing to sneeze at, Google’s real innovation in the browser space is arguably happening with Chrome. That’s why it’s surprising we haven’t heard more about a potential port of Chrome to Android, a project the Android team is now actively working on with the open source WebKit community.
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.
According to TechCrunch, this new port will essentially become a build of Chromium, an open-source port of Chrome currently available for OS X, Windows, and Linux, and may even receive the same branding. This will not only provide devs with a completely mobile WebKit-based, open-source browser to take advantage of, but also one that shares much of the code of Chromium builds.
Below is a snippet from the announcement outlining the project’s next steps, if you’re interested:
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.