IMG_20130125_130956

Latest Chrome Beta Enables Flags for Android; We Take a Look

January 25, 2013 - Written By Tom Dawson

There’s little chance for me to deny my love of Chrome – no matter the platform – in fact, this is being written from a CR-48 so, when I saw the release of Chrome Beta for Android I was pretty happy. Towards the end of last year we heard rumblings from the Chrome team that features on the Desktop and Chrome OS would trickle down into the Android build. They’ve made good on that promise and with each update to the Beta channel on Android more seems to be added. The headlining feature in this latest update is the support for “flags”.

Flags are tweaks and settings that are experimental and very much “under the hood” for Chrome. You can get to them by entering “chrome://flags” into the omnibar, no matter the platform:

Screenshot_2013-01-25-07-52-22If you’re anything like me, you’ll have seen this warning before, from tinkering on other platforms and while things have the potential to go wrong, it’s highly unlikely that anything will go wrong. I can honestly say that through all my tinkering of flags I’ve never had any issues but, they’re new to Android so there is perhaps more of a risk than before. Some of the flags are sort of minor tweaks that can get a little more speed out of Chrome. For instance, the “HTTP Pipelining” flag is one that has great effect on the Desktop and I’ve enabled it and pages have loaded a lot quicker:

Screenshot_2013-01-25-07-53-08Making Chrome a little quicker is great and all but there’s a much more important feature that has been enabled through the newfound support of flags, and that’s WebGL. Chrome for Android now supports WebGL, once you enable the “Enable WebGL” flag. If you’re not familiar with WebGL it’s essentially an implementation of hardware accelerated graphics and animations in the web browser.

It’s an exciting addition to any browser but, to see it implemented on mobile is really pretty cool. It’s even more cool when you go ahead and test it using the Quake III demo put together by Google Programmer Brandon Jones. You can follow that link on either the mobile – beta – version of Chrome or on your Desktop. Movement is easier on the PC but a two finger swipe will have you exploring, albeit pretty clumsily. To put things in perspective my One X got around 32 fps and my CR-48 just 21 fps. How things change?

Screenshot_2013-01-25-12-47-40