Atari VCS gets a browser surprise ahead of launch

Atari is currently shipping out the very first VCS consoles to those who backed the system on indiegogo, and when those backers get their units, it'll come packing a surprise: Google Chrome. Atari announced today that Chrome is the official built-in browser of the VCS. While it's somewhat rare to see consoles supporting a third-party browser like Chrome natively, it makes sense for the VCS as Atari envisions it as a console/PC hybrid.

Obviously, no PC is complete without a dedicated web browser, so the Chrome announcement certainly fits. Ataris says that shipping Chrome as the console's native browser accomplishes a number of things. For starters, it allows easy access to streaming services, and users will be able to download bookmarks for "dozens of popular streaming services" from the VCS storefront.

The presence of Chrome also means that users have access to Google's suite of apps on the VCS itself. While we're not sure people will want regular access to Gmail, Docs, or their Google Calendar while they're playing video games, the VCS is capable of using all of Google's webapps, it seems. You can even use Google Meet with the Atari VCS, and since the console supports "most PC peripherals," you can even connect a webcam to it so people can see you in these Meet calls.

Going hand-in-hand with this Chrome announcement, Atari has also confirmed that the VCS companion app is now available on the Google Play Store [download] and iOS App Store [download]. The companion app acts as a virtual keyboard and mouse for the VCS, so you won't need to connect any PC accessories to use Chrome or any of Google's webapps.

Atari said today that it's currently in the process of shipping out the first 10,000 VCS consoles to indiegogo backers, with wider retail availability slated for early 2021. We'll let you know when Atari gives a more specific date for the retail launch of the VCS, so stay tuned for that.