From Chrome to Phone (and Back Again)

Ever been reading an article (preferably one of ours) on your desktop but found you need to go catch the bus? Or been reading a story on the way home and want to finish it off on your laptop? With Android 2.2, Froyo, you can do such a thing.

In today’s How To, we’ll be looking at how you can send webpages from Google’s Chrome web browser directly to your phone’s browser, and vice versa.

Chrome to Phone

Chrome to Phone is the official Google side of things that comprises of a Chrome extension and an Android application (both free). It’s the produce of Google’s I/O conference last year when they showed off Froyo’s built in “cloud push” service, allowing applications to communicate through the cloud. Chrome to Phone was the first to show off this capability, but it’s a protocol available in other apps too.

Requirements

Setup

In order to use the app on Android, you’ll need a Google account.  Make sure that one is already linked in with your Android phone and then select it during the app’s setup.

Chrome2Phone's setup stage.

Chrome2Phone's setup stage.

Once you’ve selected your Google account, you’ll need to approve the request and then choose whether to automatically launch links or approve them manually. You’ll also have to sign in to your Google account in the extension on Chrome.

Sending your Webpages

Now for the good stuff. The process of sending from “Chrome to phone” is fairly simple. Just hit the icon in your browser’s toolbar (see image above) and let it load up on your phone. By default, and without option, Chrome will send the webpage to the built-in browser (there’s currently no option to load it in third-party browsers, at least not automatically). There’s only an, on average, 2-second delay between hitting the button and hearing the notification sound when it starts loading up on your handset. Much more streamlined than emailing the URL to yourself.

However, there is something interesting about this app, especially in connection with app discovery services like Google’s own. If you are, say, browsing the Android Market but, like me, are somehow unable to login, you can send that Market link to your phone. The standard popup appears asking if you want it to open on the browser, or in the market. If you’re out of WiFi and can’t connect on your computer, or have some other circumstance preventing you from using said web interface, this could be your saviour.

Signing in to Chrome.

Compatability

There’s a few things to note with the compatibility. Sending a webpage where you’ve already scrolled or used an anchor link instead sends as if you were already in that state. Also, websites with mobile versions will load up the mobile site and if you’re already logged in, the cookies won’t be transferred to the phone. You’ll need to login again.

This works with more than just standard webpages. Try it with Google Maps, or highlight a phone number in a webpage and hit the Chrome 2 Phone button.

Android2Cloud

Android2Cloud fulfills the other half of the relationship between Google Chrome and Android. This time, the app “hijacks” Android’s share functionality to be able to send your webpages from the phone, to Chrome. So you can share a link with your browser in order to read it over there.

Requirements

Setup

Again, setting up Android2Cloud is a breeze and you pretty much only have to sign in to your Google account. On the desktop side of things, you also need to install the extension onto Google Chrome. There are, however, plans to make a Firefox extension available and, maybe with Apple’s release of version 5, a Safari one.

Android2Cloud's setup is very similar to its counterpart's.

Sending Your Webpages

This time round, it’s not the functionality of a button to send your articles. Instead, you need to share a link via the normal route (Menu | Share) but choose “android2cloud” rather than any of the other sharing options available. This will then launch said webpage in your desktop browser.

Not Available in the Market?

The app is not available in all regions’ markets, so here’s an alternative install route.

  • Connect your phone to your computer via USB
  • Drag down the notifications bar and change the connection type to “mounting”
  • Download the app’s .apk file onto the SD card
  • Disconnect from USB
  • Install/launch “App Installer” and locate the file
  • Tap to install

Final Thoughts

Both apps are a testament to the route that Android is going in. Since Froyo’s cloud-push announcement to the more recent one about a web-based marketplace, Google seems to be pushing (no pun intended) the cloud based sync option. However, there is still room for growth in these apps.

Neither app brings across cookies so you’ll have to login to a site again on your handset. It would be a lot easier, and more user-friendly, to log in to a site on your desktop and have it beamed over to your phone. Unfortunately, this just isn’t a possibility right now.