In Short

Chrome is yet another Google software platform, much like Android, only different. It's a desktop browser, a mobile app, and the operating system for Google's series of laptops and mini desktops.

Chrome means several different things, but they all center around one main component — Google’s Chrome browser.

On the traditional computer side — that’d be your desktop or your laptop — the Chrome browser is just a download away no matter what brand of computer you have. It’s available for Microsoft Windows, Apple’s OSX, and most flavors of Linux as an easy to install prebuilt package. Hardcore Unix types can also build the open-source version — dubbed Chromium — for just about any modern machine. The Chrome browser is easy to install, and that’s just the way Google likes it.

That brings us to ChromeOS, and the machines that run it. Google has partnered with companies like HP and Acer to build inexpensive laptops and desktops that run Chrome. ChromeOS is basically a very stripped down version of Linux, where the user-space tools and applications — those are the programs and user interface that we see when we turn it on — are about the same Chrome experience you find on your computer. This gives you an easy to use machine that’s always up to date — the latest security and feature releases are downloaded automatically and install when you reboot — machine that’s perfect for the Internet. If you mostly use your computer for Facebooking, watching YouTube, or surfing the web, you’re the target audience for a ChromeOS device.

Finally, we come to the Chrome browser for mobile devices. Google has made Chrome available for both Android and Apple’s iOS, and it has already become a favorite. One the Android side you have both the stable release, and the Beta builds for those who are the adventurers. There are fans of both, and the Beta isn’t too buggy most of the time. You can get either right from Google Play, and there’s a good chance Chrome (the stable build) came pre-installed on your Android.

The best thing about all this and what ties it together is the synchronization. Chrome uses your Google account to store app data, so that once you sign into Chrome from anywhere — a computer, your tablet, or a Chromebook, for example — all your settings are the same, your bookmarks are the same, and even your login data is there is you choose to have it set up that way. As an extra bonus, any extensions or apps you’ve installed also appear on the computer version or ChromeOS. Extensions and Chrome apps are not yet supported on Android or iOS.

We love everything Chrome around these parts, and Android Central is the right place to find out more about all things Chrome and Google.