Mere hours after releasing Chrome 24 for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Google on Thursday announced it is introducing a new Chrome beta channel for phones and tablets running Android 4.0 or higher. You can download version 25.0.1364.8 right now directly from Google Play (since this is a beta, it’s not available via search; you’ll need to use the link).

The release of version 25 is significant because it means Google is attempting to bring Chrome for Android in line with the desktop version. The current release of Chrome for Android is version 18, last updated in November.

Today’s beta update features faster JavaScript performance, which shows up on the Octane benchmark as an improvement on average of 25 percent to 30 percent. Furthermore, there are new HTML5 features for developers, such as CSS Filters.

Yet this is still a beta. Here are the known issues:

  • Performance is sluggish, noticeably on Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S.
  • Frequent freeze on devices with specific versions of Qualcomm GPU driver.
  • Text autosizing may break formatting on some sites.
  • 164632 – Editing bookmark feature is broken.
  • 165244 – Text position handler jumps or disappears when moving.
  • 163439 – Clicking on links in yahoo.com not navigating on Nexus 7.
  • 166233 – Unable to submit comments on Facebook posts in desktop version of Facebook.
  • 165244 – Text handler jumps or disappears when moving.
  • 167351 – Youtube video controls are lost after returning from fullscreen video mode.
  • 162486 – iframe scrolling broken.

Think of this like the Canary desktop build of Chrome: you can install both Chrome and Chrome Beta side by side on the same Android device. There are no other channels other than stable and beta, so on Android, Chrome beta will only ever be one version above Chrome stable.

The beta channel for Google’s mobile operating system joins the other beta channels available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS. Just like on the other platforms, Chrome Beta for Android offers a preview of new features currently in development, enhancements, and of course bugs.

You get early access and the ability to provide feedback on what’s new and what’s broken. Google wouldn’t say how often the updates would come on Android, but if the other beta channels are any indication, they should be at least monthly.

Google is accepting bug reports here: Google Chrome Help Forum and New issue.

Image credit: T. Al Nakib