Android 4.4 KitKat and Future Versions to Ship Without Browser, OEMs to License Chrome Or Provide Their Own

| November 21, 2013 | 11 Replies


Google’s Chrome browser has grown in popularity from a relatively obscure open-source project on Google’s part, to a browser that’s being used by anywhere from 32-46% of Internet users depending on what country you’re in.  That’s at least 10% more than any other browser out there, even the old failsafe Internet Explorer that once ruled the high seas of the Internet kingdom.  Google’s impressive leap to the lead is for a number of reasons, all of which include better security, web apps, great user interface design and just a faster browser experience.  Google took this browser expertise to Android when it launched Chrome on Android in the summer of 2012, and it brought much joy to lots of Android users worldwide.  Much like the desktop version of Chrome, the Android version quickly became synonymous with web browser on Google’s mobile platform, and now it looks like Google will finally be replacing that old stock Android browser with Chrome as part of the Google Apps license.  UnwiredView found a couple of tweets by Android developer Maximiliano Firtman that confirm this:

 chrome tweet-1chrome tweet-2

For those who are unaware of how Android is licensed, essentially the operating system is free to use by anyone, including companies like HTC and Samsung, but companies have to license Google’s apps if they want to ship them with the latest device.  Since Google is taking away the stock Android browser with Android 4.4 KitKat, that means that Android doesn’t actually ship with any kind of browser at all if it isn’t licensed.  This will force OEMs to make their own browser or continue to license Chrome as they have in the past, and it’s a mixed bag as to what this is going to do.  Initially it seems like most OEMs will just license Chrome and not bother with making their own browsers, but what about companies like Samsung and HTC that have already built their own browsers?  Samsung has been shipping their phones with both the Samsung browser and Chrome installed for a little while now, and while this creates confusion for some users, it ultimately gives more people a choice.


Many will pick Chrome over the stock “Browser” simply on name alone, and in my personal opinion that’s a very good thing.  Samsung’s Browser, like much of their user interface, is archaic and not well designed (i.e. it looks like Apple’s browser on the iPhone).  Chrome represents a new generation of browser design that’s fast, fluid and easy to use, and most of all it’s incredibly simple to manage multiple tabs.  Google has also been building a lot of security measures into Chrome lately, and this move is also likely part of them trying to take Android back from OEM control.  While a lot of things things are more for the desktop version of the browser, like banning external extensions, it trickles down to the mobile version since they’re built on the same base.  Let’s just hope this doesn’t backfire on Google and end up giving the OEMs more control instead of less.

Category: Android News

About Nick Sutrich ()

I've been into games and technology since before I could spell, and while I've had my share of technology allegiances throughout the years Android is the OS I call home. I started off my Android journey with an HTC G2 (Vision for the International crowd) and eventually moved on through the Samsung Galaxy Note series and now have a Galaxy Note 3. I'm a professional IT guy and live with my wife and son in balmy Florida.
  • Paul Taylor

    Google need to be careful here. If Mozilla get some swift agreements in place for Firefox, the Moto & Nexus devices might end up being the only ones with Chrome pre-installed.

    • Weston

      Yeah and how many people who get a Samsung or an HTC are going to go download Chrome from the Play Store if they both decide not to preinstall Chrome anymore? Most will use that browser.

    • AndroidShiz

      You mean like how Windows Phone is, that several OEMs are making?

      • Paul Taylor

        Yes like that – except it’s not a problem for Microsoft, because there isn’t a Samsung sitting there with huge market share, and potentially willing to sign a deal with Dolphin or Mozilla to supply the default browser.

        • AndroidShiz

          Mozilla’s browser isn’t ready in my opinion to be a default browser. Dolfin is OK, but if I’m understanding this correctly, if you want to license Google stuff on your devices like Google Play store/services, Gmail, Google Now etc, you will be installing Chrome on those devices as well since that will come with the officially licensed version. As big as Sammy is, most of their native apps that try to copy Google’s are shoddy, bloaty, and poorly designed.

  • Kai-Chun Lin

    It’s probably for the better, maintaining both the default browser and Chrome is a drain on Google Android dev resource that could’ve better spent elsewhere.

  • Marius Oprisan

    Instead of 2 preinstalled browsers, I’d rather pick my own favorite from the PlayStore

  • AndroidShiz

    I’m glad. ATT and other carriers are putting undeletable bookmarks in the stock browser and installing things like their bottom of the screen info browser bar that you have to dig into settings to disable. Etc. It’s bad enough having to have ANY unremovable carrier apps on a phone you pay a lot for, let alone having to have their software in your phone dialer, and internet browser.

  • Ara Wagoner

    My phone didn’t come with Chrome, but I got it anyway. Let Google make money, and if not, it’s not terribly hard to install it. -Ara

  • renegadedroid

    @Nick Sutrich In your article you say: ”Chrome represents a new generation of browser design that’s fast, fluid and easy to use” Are you basing this on any imperical evidence you are in possesion of? It would have been nice to see that linked ;-) I have done some tests and Chrome is slower than both the stock Android browser and the Samsung browser that came along with my Note 3.
    Lack of flash support is something worth mentioning too in an Android browser discussion.
    Finally, the abolition of gesture/swipe controls, the lack of ‘wrap-around-text’ functionality – to name a few – hardly makes for a browser that is ”easy to use”

  • Pomacat

    Chrome is my go to browser. It is the only one that show the pages correctly when I have text scaling set all the way up for these older eyes. I have used all the other browsers and none of them will do this on whatever site I am on.