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Dear Google: Chrome Beta is Breaking My Heart
By: Melody Weister
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As a woman who considers herself a technology aficionado, I try to surround myself with friends who are equally interested in the changing shape of new media. So when two of my fellow techie geeks sent me text messages within minutes of each other, both with the same link to the Android market, I knew something big was going on. Before I even navigated to the link, I found myself wondering what it would be. Instagram for Android is due out soon, but Instagram for Android has been “due out soon” for almost a year now, and my friends know better than to tip me off to an app that wannabe photographers use to take retro-style photographs of their Converse sneakers. (Apologies, Instagram fans, but the number of pseudo-still-life photos that show up on my friends’ Facebook pages is alarming.) However, this was something much bigger: Google Chrome for Android. I could feel my heart thrilling in my chest as the Market page loaded, only to come screeching to a halt within seconds as I noticed the error message at the top of the page.

“Your device isn’t compatible with this item.”

Both friends and I spent a significant amount of time tossing ideas around as to why the application wouldn’t load: My phone is rooted (no one should be surprised by this), the ROM I was using hadn’t updated its version of Market; so on went the list of reasons...until I checked a few other technology blogs and discovered, to my dismay, the true reason the app wouldn’t load. My phone doesn’t have Ice Cream Sandwich.

For those who aren’t totally up on technology news, this doesn’t refer to a tasty frozen treat but rather the newest version of the Android operating system for smartphones. Ice Cream Sandwich (or ICS) has been deployed to a few devices so far, most notably the Galaxy Nexus (whose beauty and speed still leave me breathless), but not a wide variety of devices are running it, not yet. This is what baffles me. Google Chrome has been the browser by which I have sworn for most of my adulthood. I’ve relied on it for nearly as long as it’s been around. I have all my bookmarks, etc., synced to Chrome, and the more my friends gushed about all the amazing features used in even this beta version, which is basically a tester of the full version but not entirely polished and final, the more baffled I felt.

This is my beef, Google: I am thrilled, as are many, that there’s a beta release of Chrome for Android. Now that it’s released, mostly, it’s only compatible with the version of your operating system that’s used by an extremely limited number of Android devices. That’s not fair. There are significant changes to ICS from Gingerbread, of which most app developers and smartphone geeks like me are aware, which could of course interfere with app development for both operating systems. I understand this. But it seems an unwise decision to release such a gem to only a select few, and not those less-privileged Android users who haven’t been fortunate enough to receive an update to ICS. It’s not our fault. Google Chrome is the browser of choice for many technology fiends, and due to its widespread popularity, one would expect to see a little stronger punch behind the release of this app, not a quietly distributed limited beta that only touches a marginal number of users.

I, and my equally misfortunate fellows, can only hope that the limited accessibility of this app is only for the beta release, and that soon a full version will be released with an increased compatibility. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about this widely anticipated release, and hope to be able to try it for myself soon. It’s breaking my heart, Google; it really is.

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About the Author
Melody Weister is a technology aficionado, unashamed smartphone geek, and casual gamer from Montclair, NJ, where she works as a Social Media Coordinator. Follow her on Twitter: @msmelodyrose.
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