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Google revs Chrome for Android with new beta release

The Chrome 25 beta for Android adds several features, but perhaps the most important is that it doesn't lag the PC version of the browser nearly as much.

Chrome beta icon

Android users who want to live an edgier life now can try a beta version of Chrome.

Google yesterday released the Chrome 25 beta for Android 4.x for smartphones and tablets, a version number in sync with the release for personal computers. Previously, the only option was the stable version of Chrome for Android, which is still way back at version 18.

The Chrome for Android beta is available on the Google Play app store, but only by following that link -- it's not visible in Google Play's search, Google said. The beta version can be installed and run side by side with the stable version.

Google has been working to put Chrome for Android on the same six-week update cycle as the personal computer version of the browser, and it looks like this release is part of that change. The Chrome 25 beta brings a number of new features, but Google warns of sluggish performance and some other problems.

Among the new features, according to Chrome developer Peter Beverloo:

• A new "text autosizing" technique for formatting text on mobile-device screens, drawing in part upon "font inflation" work by Mozilla. Sometimes it seems to cause Chrome to display different areas of text in mismatched font sizes, though.

• Faster JavaScript performance trough use of a newer version of Google's V8 software.

• A range of developer-oriented features such as CSS filters for visual effects, dynamic viewport units for better handling of screen-size and pixel-size variations, IndexedDB for offline data storage and other data-handling needs, and flexbox layout abilities for more adaptable formatting.