The most unstable version of the Chrome browser is now available on Android

Kyle Wiggers
The most unstable version of the Chrome browser is now available on Android
The most unstable version of Google's Android browser, Chrome Canary, has finally come to mobile devices. It's publicly available, for souls with the courage to brave its unpredictable waters.

Like to live dangerously? Prefer your mobile internet browsers filled with work-in-progress features just barely fit for public consumption? Chances are you use Chrome Canary, the bleeding-edge edition of Google’s Chrome browser that’s so precariously close to catastrophic failure, it takes its name from the practice of using canaries in coal mines. Previously, that pleasant experience was relegated to the clients on Windows and Mac, but now, all that voluntary instability is heading to Android. On Tuesday, Google listed a mobile version of Chrome Canary in the Play Store.

Canary is the most unstable version of Chrome publicly available, created daily from the most stable of the Chrome team’s last 40 revisions. It is so fraught with data peril, in fact, that it runs alongside other Chrome releases, does not share files with any other Chrome installation, silos profile, settings, plugin, and theme data. By default, in fact, Chrome Canary cannot be set as the default browser on Windows or Mac — that preference has to be changed at the operating system level.

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Chrome Canary for Android seems no different. The Play Store listing describes it as “experimental,” and a release that “has not been tested,” and one that “may be unstable” at times.” Just like the Canary channel for other platforms, new versions are built from the most recent code available and often contain a variety of new features, enhancements, and bug fixes,” Google said in a blog post. “These builds shipped automatically with now manual testing, which means that the build can be unstable and may even stop working entirely for days at a time.”

Google also warns Canary will see frequent updates — up to “seven times per week” — and so potentially consume more bandwidth than other, slightly more polished browsers. “The frequency of builds means that keeping the app update will consume … typically more than 100MB,” Google said. “This is especially important for phones set to update native apps over cellular data.”

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All that said, Canary is hardly a lost cause. “The goal is for Canary to remain usable at all times,” Google said. The takeaway: as long as you don’t mind a bit of unpredictability, Canary will not give you any major trouble. Just don’t trust it with your manifesto. “The Chrome team prioritizes fixing major issues as quickly as possible,” Google said.

Chrome Canary joins the two other prerelease Chrome versions on Android, Chrome Beta and Chrome Dev. The former became available in January 2013 and the latter launched in April 2015.