While the iPhone syncs with Safari and Internet Explorer, it can't grab bookmarks from Chrome or Firefox out of the box, and most versions of Android can't sync bookmarks with any browser. Here are a few ways to get your desktop bookmarks on your smartphone without any hassle.
Method One: The Xmarks Web Interface
Xmarks is our favorite bookmark management tool, and with good reason. It's available on most major browsers, syncs open tabs and history along with your bookmarks, and even has mobile apps for Android and iOS.
The mobile apps are OK, but they require a $US12/year premium account to use, and aren't as feature-filled as some of the other options. However, if you're already using Xmarks, one very easy way to get bookmarks on your phone is to head to the Xmarks mobile web page and view your bookmarks and open tabs from there. It isn't quite as easy to browse, but it's completely free, doesn't require installation of anything on your phone, and (unlike Xmarks for iOS) works with any mobile browser.
Method Two: Bookmark Syncing Apps
If you're willing to install an extra app on your phone, however (and maybe an extension in your browser), you can get a better experience than Xmarks will give you. Here are the best bookmark syncing apps for each phone and browser.
Chrome and iOS: If you're a Chrome user and want your bookmarks on your device, we recommend the 99¢ Chrome Sync Pro. You'll need to install an extension to Chrome, but you'll barely notice it's there. It will sync all your bookmarks through a file in Google Docs, and after logging into the app, you can view all your bookmarks, your history, and your open tabs right there. The best part is that it lets you open them up in any browser you want -- so if you're using something like Atomic, our favourite iOS browser, this will integrate very well with your workflow.
Firefox and iOS: Syncing Firefox bookmarks to iOS is simple: just like Chrome, you can use Firefox Sync Pro, a 99¢ app that, with the help of a browser extension, will sync everything through a Google Doc on your Google account. Then, you can just open the app on your phone and open your bookmarks, history items, or open tabs in any iOS browser you want -- not just Safari. Of course, if you want a free app, you can use Firefox's official Firefox Home app, which does the same thing (and without an extra browser extension). It only works with Safari, however, so it isn't without downsides.
Chrome and Android: Shockingly, it took Android until version 4.0 to include a simple bookmark syncing feature. If your phone still hasn't gotten the Ice Cream Sandwich treatment, though, you can use previously mentioned ChromeMarks to sync your bookmarks. Again, it doesn't sync them with your default browser, but instead lets you access your bookmarks from the ChromeMarks app. This may seem annoying, but also offers the advantage of working with any browser you want on Android, so you aren't forced to use the default.
Firefox and Android: Sadly, there doesn't seem to be an equivalent to ChromeMarks for Firefox. Instead, if you're a Firefox user and want your bookmarks, open tabs, and history on your phone, you'll have to use the somewhat slow Firefox browser for Android. It's actually a pretty good browser, though, as long as your phone (and your patience) can handle the slowness -- and for Firefox users, the syncing is about as easy as it gets.
These aren't the only ways to sync your bookmarks down, of course -- some 3rd party browsers (like 360 Browser for iOS) support bookmark syncing out of the box, but the above methods should work with just about any browser you want. And, while most of them won't sync directly to the browser itself, they do a great job of syncing bookmarks, open tabs, and history down to your device with minimal effort. Got your own favourite method for accessing your bookmarks on a smartphone? Share them with us in the comments.