Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt had plenty to discuss during his keynote at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, sharing his vision of the future for mobile and Internet technology. Some topics included human rights and how technology is shaping our future, hinting at various Google-related products all the while. But the keynote kicked off with a demo of Google Chrome for Android Ice Cream Sandwich, showing off some key features. The new Chrome actually pre-loads web pages it anticipates you’ll open next, speeding up the browsing experience. Chrome for Android also launched in an additional 20 countries this week.
Schmidt hails Android as the best mobile OS on the market, with the best browser. “If you care about security, you should use Chrome, because it’s by far the safest,” he said, referring to the growing controversy over the security of the browser. The mobile browser concerns pertain to a vulnerability existing in WebKit, the software engine used by the Chrome and Safari web browsers. Security firm CrowdStrike was able to redirect the target smartphone’s browser during tests on Android-powered phones, tapping a remote access tool capable of intercepting voice calls, tracking the phone’s location and harvesting email and text messages.
On the bright side, any cyber-criminal looking to take advantage of the WebKit weak spot will first have to get a malware app into the Market, and further convince a smartphone user to download that app. It’s getting more difficult to peddle malware in the Android Market, especially since Google’s stepped-up protection methods and the rise in security services for Android devices.
Google Chrome is an important piece of the Android puzzle, merging two platforms central to Google’s long term goals around search advertising and web services. During Schmidt’s keynote he shared his vision of mobility for developing countries, with smartphones replacing feature phones. Google Chrome could play a large part in providing web access through Android gadgets, with a web-device combo that Mozilla and Telefonica are also leveraging to bring more smartphones to developing countries.