I’ve recently needed to debug a web application on Android and if you haven’t noticed - there are no Developer Tools for the mobile Google Chrome. Pity.

However there is a handy feature built in into Google Chrome on Android called “USB Web Debugging”, which allows you to connect your Android device to a computer and debug it there. Handy! Now here’s how to set it up:

Setting it up

It is supposed to only work with Chrome Beta, Chrome Dev and Chrome Canary channel versions, but for me it did work on Chrome Stable. If these steps don’t work for you, you may need to go via the Android SDK route, so for that please check the official guide: Remote Debugging with Chrome and ADBPlugin. Alright, let’s get going.

On your Android device

There are two things you will need to enable on your Android device:

  1. USB Debugging - Settings > Developer options > Check “USB debugging”. If you’re using an older version of Android (I’ve written this guide for Android 4.1), this option may be found in other place or even hidden.
  2. USB Web debugging - Chrome > Settings > Developer tools > Check “Enable USB Web debugging”.

Once you’ve done that - the device is ready for action! Just don’t forget to connect the device via USB to your computer. Now we only need to do a couple of things on your computer…

On your computer

  1. Install the official ADBPlugin Chrome Extension from the Play Store
  2. Click on the Android icon in your Chrome menu and select “Start ADB”.
  3. Click on the Android icon in your Chrome menu and select “View inspection targets” or go straight to chrome://inspect. You should see the device and open windows listed there. The first time I did this it didn’t work for me, but a restart of Chrome on both devices and reconnecting the USB cable helped.
  4. Click inspect next to the desired entry to open up Chrome Developer Tools to start inspecting the page!

And that’s pretty much it! It’s that simple to get going. And props for people who created this as it makes mobile development so much easier and more convenient. Personally, I’ve been blown away by it.

If you have any questions, notes or suggestions, please let me know below in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them.