Google Unveils New Chrome Tools for Android, Desktop Developers

The new Chrome tools provide emulation, debugging and on-screen testing capabilities of apps on mobile devices.

Google's Chrome Beta Web browser now offers mobile and desktop developers several new features, including expanded emulation and screencasting capabilities as well as new debugging tools that will help developers test and debug their apps more quickly.

The new tools were announced in a Dec. 3 post by Pavel Feldman, a Chrome software engineer, on the Chromium Blog. The tools have been added to the beta development version of Chrome for Android, desktop and Chrome OS, according to Feldman.

"Modern web apps are expected to render and perform on mobile perfectly," wrote Feldman. "That means considering responsive design, 60 fps and connectivity early in the development cycle. With the Beta channel of Chrome for Android and desktop, we've made it easier to develop and debug mobile web apps through an improved viewport emulation and zero-config, screencast-enabled remote debugging."

The tools will allow app developers to see how their code will display on mobile devices as they write, which will help them create better code and apps, wrote Feldman. "While designing your app, you want to make sure it looks great on multiple screens. DevTools now enables you to go through the popular device screens without leaving the development environment. Just select a device from the Console drawer's Emulation tab and all the relevant viewport properties will be set for you. We'll run the page through the same mobile viewporting code used in mobile Chrome to get you accurate results."

Developers will also have full control of the emulation parameters, such as screen resolution, touch emulation, devicePixelRatio, user agent, sensors and more, he wrote. To use the new emulation feature, developers will need to check the "Show 'Emulation' view in console drawer" box in their DevTool's Settings, he added.

The ability of developers to test the actual Web app's performance on a real device is also new to the updates, wrote Feldman. "Chrome Beta—including ChromeOS—now supports native USB discovery of connected devices," he wrote. "Find them under Tools → Inspect Devices menu item, or visit the about:inspect page. There's no configuration necessary and no need for the adb command line tool or extensions to see all instances of Chrome and WebView on the devices connected to your computer." Windows users, however, need to install the USB device drivers to enable device communication, he wrote.

The new screencasting capabilities can be used when connecting the devices using USB, he wrote. "While connected over USB, you can screencast the full viewport content from the device to DevTools. The corresponding icon will be shown next to the Elements tab if the inspected device is able to screencast. Keyboard and mouse events are also sent from DevTools to your device, so you don't even need to touch it while you're testing your apps."

The new developer tools updates for Chrome follow another recent round of three new tools that were added in August. Those tools included Workspaces, which allows developers to live-edit source files within DevTools with bidirectional disk persistence; CSS preprocessor mapping; and Snippets, which let developers create, edit, save and execute custom JavaScript snippets.

Google is always working on new and improved tools for developers of their products.

In July, Google released a new Dart Software Development Kit and Editor in beta to help developers create their code more quickly. The company also began experimenting with a new network protocol, called QUIC (Quick UDP Internet Connections), which could help speed up network connections in the future.

The new Dart SDK and Editor is in its first beta release and contains performance and productivity improvements aimed at helping developers automate their code creation, produce smaller JavaScript code and deploy Dart Web apps. The release notes for the new editor are now available, and the latest version of the Dart Editor can be downloaded at

In June, Google unveiled a new Cloud Playground environment where developers can quickly try out ideas on a whim, without having to commit to setting up a local development environment that's safe for testing coding experiments outside the production infrastructure. The new Cloud Playground is presently limited to supporting Python 2.7 App Engine apps.

Earlier in June, Google opened its Google Maps Engine API to developers so they can build consumer and business applications that incorporate the features and flexibility of Google Maps. By using the Maps API, developers can now use Google's cloud infrastructure to add their data on top of a Google Map and share that custom mash-up with consumers, employees or other users. The maps can then be shared internally by companies or organizations or be published on the Web.