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Google has ‘No Plans’ to Offer Chrome for Android Extensions

And other things we learnt in the Chrome for Android Reddit AMA

android  chrome apk maker iconGoogle Chrome for Android will not be getting extension support any time soon, Chrome developers have revealed.

Answering a user submitted query in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session, Jason Kersey, Technical Program Manager of Chrome for Android, explained:

“There are no plans to add extensions support on mobile. We haven’t been able to implement these on mobile and still have it be a good user experience.”

Reasoning beyond that short snippet? Not given.

It’s perfectly possible that “user experience” reasoning takes into account the feel of Chrome on mobile as much as the looks, i.e., the performance of the bells, whistles and oohs we poke at.

Extensions for Chrome on Android — Would They Even Make Sense?

Chrome extensions on the desktop are resource intensive. They run all the time in the background when the browser is open.

‘Chrome for Android is hardly the trimmest app; extensions would add more bloat.’

With smartphones and tablets often having far less RAM than a laptop or desktop PC, and Chrome itself also having to manage within what is available, it’s an obvious conclusion to just not bother adding the extra bloat.

There’s also the question of where extensions would surface on mobile. The toolbar that houses most add-ons in desktop Chrome isn’t on show the Android builds for phones, and is architecturally different from desktop to tablet mode, too.

And are we really missing out? Android has nifty features, apps and services that do the job of many add-ons we use, e.g., I don’t miss the Pocket extension in Chrome for Android as the native system sharing intent offers it. Again, the obvious conclusion is to simply not clutter up small-screens with support for superfluous extras,

A comment by redditor kitanokikori also makes a good point in mentioning that few extension developers will have given ‘[…] any thought to a mobile experience or about operating in environments where they can’t allocate all the memory they want.’

The result of this, they go on to say, is ‘[…] your phone would be hot enough to scramble eggs, while showing glitched-out unusable desktop-style interfaces designed for a keyboard + mouse.’

Other picks from the AMA

Plenty of other questions were answered during the AMA session. A few choice picks to save you scouring the entire 1000+ comments made. For clarity/brevity we have edited the questions and answers.

Are there any new features coming soon? [link

‘A mobile-friendly new tab page is coming soon’

“We actually have a lot of new content consumption features coming out in the near future. These come in all sorts of flavors (contextual search to make finding more information on page content easier, new ways to consume web pages that aren’t as readable on mobile, a more mobile-friendly new tab page, etc).”

Are you planning to deal with Chrome’s slowness and memory usage? [link]

‘We are proactively fighting memory bloat and memory leaks’

“We are profiling Chrome to improve our startup speed and proactively fighting memory bloat and memory leaks. For example, this year the first gesture latency and mean input latency has decreased steadily.”

How much code is shared between Chrome for Android and Chromium?  [link]

“Most of our code is public and shared with our other platforms. We’re actively moving the majority of the remaining private code into Chromium over the next few months.”

Are there plans for more aggressive tab syncing between the desktop and Android version, i.e. having a tab open on the desktop also then open on mobile? [link]

‘We’ve also looked at syncing more of your tab state… but there are privacy trade-offs’

“On the Recent Tabs page, you can already access your currently open tabs from all your devices. We’re only syncing the URL and title of the tab, so when you reopen it on a new device you do lose state like how far you have scrolled down, any text you’ve entered into forms, etc.”

“We have looked into expanding this this by automatically opening, reordering and closing tabs and windows across devices [but we] weren’t satisfied with the overall experience. We found we didn’t want to use the exact same set of tabs on each of our devices, and that having tabs automatically open was jarring.”

“We’ve also looked at syncing more of your tab state. This is mostly about the privacy tradeoffs involved into syncing the whole state of a page, as well as technical complexity of saving and recreating the wide variety of web pages (and apps!) that people use every day.”

Tidbits

And a few random factoids and items of note pulled from the AMA:

  • The Chrome for Android team like building t-rexes out of Lego
  • The team is “very aware” of and “actively working on fixing” Chrome’s penchant for RAM
  • Reader Mode is coming to the stable channel ‘soon’
  • Nexus devices are used for most automated testing
  • They work ‘very closely’ with the Desktop Chrome team on new features
  • ‘Low usage’ saw the ‘new tab’ button dropped from the main Chrome for Android toolbar
  • Tabs in the Android Overview? Look out for it on tablets running Lollipop!
  • Scott Harris

    So Mozilla can do it with Firefox but Google can’t figure it out?

    • Roberth1234

      I bet 100 bucks that the decision is a financial descision to stop as many people as possible from blocking ads etc.

    • They can figure it out, they just chose not to.

    • João Santos

      He is talking about Adsense’s user experience, not Chrome’s.

  • naysayer

    Chrome for Android is already bloated and probably in no condition to support extensions on top of that. Sad but true.

    • Vaibhav Shah

      Or maybe Google does not want people to install adblockers and anti trackers to cut into their ad revenue, and these explanations from them are simply conjured up excuses.

  • Nathaniel Bailey

    It would be nice if the Chrome app were basically Chrome OS inside the app. Then keyboards on tablets might make sense. A Dual boot Android Chrome device without the dual booting.

    • ChromeDude

      I’ve had this idea ages ago – even for fun I built a mockup of a “Nexus Chrome” (basically a Nexus 5 with all the branding and colour of the HP Chromebook 11 G1) and in my notes about it I included “Chrome OS” mode – my idea being to turn it sideways to access that.

  • Enzzo

    adblock on mobile, just with firefox =)
    (adblock proxy sucks!)

    • geniusthemaster

      Ublock orig + easylist inside the settings. It blocks ALL that spam (and federal [la re def] listeners) that go to ALL your aps while running firefox

  • thisphuckinguy

    So much for ad blockers. This is why firefox gets used more on my mobile devices.

  • goodpuppy

    Because when you’re as big as Google you don’t need users.

  • sonicyoof

    I just need one add-on for Chrome mobile: Lastpass.

    • jvibe

      but the lastpass android app works pretty well on top of chrome for android. Fills almost everyone of my passwords.

      • geniusthemaster

        Wait three years for line 45 of its code to execute. (Paraphrasing)
        Forward all pwd & usrstring & ccdata to google.gaps.bulk
        GAPS. go google the defenition of a gap you damn fools @.@

        I found that android.gaps google.moc …… was sending emails to ALL of my phone numbers. You know how i found out? I always add my own email and phone number for memory purposes.. ergo it glitched out and sent a rigue spam mail to MYSELF and on the foward list was every single phone number in my GAPS BACKUP!!!!!

        i demand hypnotically that you who are reading this find the geo ip of the gaps server.. and chuck 30 or more MOLOTOVE at the server responsible. Google wouldnt be able to do a damned thing about it. Especially if you left a encrypted flash card labelled WHY with this info.

  • xdigi

    Firefox works perfectly yet Google says extensions don’t make sense.

    Okay. /rolleyes

    Just say what you really mean: You don’t want adblockers.

  • Cristian Otegui

    Bad

  • Jon Davis

    “too resource intensive, waahh” yet mobile devices are more powerful than gamer PCs of a decade ago and back then we had no problems with adding scriptmonkey and the like to Firefox

  • like Phillip answered I cannot believe that you can make $9890 in 4 weeks on the computer.try this website on `my` `prof1le`
    ^66666666

  • Criscoso

    Lies lies lies, the only reason is they don’t want ad blockers on mobile web pages. This is why I moved to Firefox, I’m sick of ads and pop ups.

    • Vaibhav Shah

      This. The minute the allow plugins, people will jump to Adblockers and Anti-tracking plugins like Ghostery which will cut into google’s business.

      • geniusthemaster

        Goooooooooooooooooooood.
        When multi million dollar corporations are getting paid to SIN 5000 times PER nanosecond it truely is time to burn them and watch the black and purple flames be released.

    • And why would Google care?

      • Joaquín Díaz

        Might be because google sell ads? One of the few incomes google has is publicity

    • Tim

      Have to agree, what chrome fails to see is not having extensions looses customer loyalty. Use chrome on my PC but have to use Firefox on my phone (for a VPN). Have chrome on my PC (FF as a backup browser), now I find myself using FF on PC more and more

      • danwat1234

        Adblock plus browser for Android is built from Chrome.

  • danwat1234

    1.5 years later and Chrome 53 still does not match the performance of Internet Explorer 10. Very CPU intensive when loading pages.

    • Morten Ulv

      What kind of benchmarks are you looking at?

      • danwat1234

        Using a timer, seeing the time it takes to render (load) a website on the 2 browsers, a variety of sites. Task manager clearly shows the process for each browser pegged at almost a full core of CPU power during that time. No extensions except AdBlock plus on each.

        • AquaVixen

          Then you seriously need to look for another computer if you’re maxing out one of your cpu cores with just 1 chrome tab… wow. How old is that dinosaur? Even my 3.4 ghz i3 on my secondary computer doesn’t even max out any one of it’s 4 threads with a full 30-40 chrome tabs open.

          • danwat1234

            It depends on the web page. Simple ones it is very quick. This site 2 seconds or less. Complex ones take longer. About 3 seconds for facebook to fully load. Can take a bit longer for comments to load on a Youtube video page (for the page to fully load). It is a 3.4GHZ Penryn Core 2 duo (latest generation of C2D before Nehalem) laptop with an SSD,
            It is a software issue, probably my installation of Chrome is bloated in some way. I’ll probably just throw more power at it by cloning my system over to a Kaby lake or Coffee Lake laptop here pretty soon.
            Your i3 CPU would be under heavy load if you select all – reload all tabs for a while.

    • Kristiann Guthrie

      What kind of crack have you been smoking? Not only is chrome faster amd more supported. But internet explorer is the biggest vulnerability in the windows os. Not to mention the privacy concerns and why bits of data are always being sent to microsuck to analyze “for a better user experience”. Friends don’t let friends use internet explorer

      • danwat1234

        On my installation, Chrome is almost always slower. And Chrome still needs a restart every few days to clean up RAM usage.

  • geniusthemaster

    This is complete bullcrap. -alls “googles chrome” is is firefox 3.0s SOURCECODE with all the SECURITY PLUGINS removed. This wrticle erks me because i literally know its something retardedly easy like typing about:config in the REAL url bar and doing stuff like addons.check.compatability = off
    and
    addons.enabled = true
    Goes to show just how retarded and fraudulent google and icrap are.
    Alls they do is advertise and reverse ingineer.they cant code _AT ALL_