File Under: Browsers

Google Brings 3-D Animations to Mobile With New Chrome for Android

Google’s Ro.me experiment running in Chrome for Android. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey

Google Chrome for Android is beefing up its animation powers. For now the new WebGL support is limited to developers willing to install the beta channel and delve into Chrome’s settings, but expect support for sophisticated WebGL animations to land in the final version of Chrome for Android soon.

If you’ve already installed the beta channel of Chrome for Android you’ll be automatically updated to the latest release. If you’d like to try it out, head over to the Google Play Store (unfortunately, searching the Play Store for “Chrome Beta” doesn’t work). It’s worth noting that Chrome and Chrome Beta install as two different apps.

WebGL is a JavaScript API for adding hardware-accelerated 2-D and 3-D rendering to the HTML5 Canvas tag. It’s the cornerstone of many sophisticated animations on the web — think cutting-edge games or interactive videos like Google’s earlier Ro.me experiment.

The WebGL API is based on OpenGL, a desktop graphics standard, which means WebGL can run on many different devices — your laptop, your phone, even your TV. That said, older Android phones will likely be a disappointment when it comes to rendering complex WebGL animations.

The latest Chrome for Android Beta gives users access to chrome://flags, a hidden menu page that allows interested developers to run experimental features. Head to that address and scroll down to find the option to turn on WebGL.

Other handy developer tools in chrome://flags include an FPS counter, which shows a page’s frame rate, CSS Shader support and the same experimental WebKit features option you’ll find in the desktop release of Chrome.