Google Chrome For iOS Isn’t Ruled Out

In case you haven’t heard, Google just launched the Chrome browser for Android. It is free, in beta and available for all Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) devices.

Since Chrome has made the move to mobile devices, MG Siegler wonders about a similar version for iOS.

When he asked Google SVP from Chrome, Sundar Pichai, about Chrome for iOS, his reply was:

“It’s a tough question for us.”

His response isn’t really hard to decrypt. Given Apple’s strict policies of disallowing any code interpreters on the App Store, Google’s engineers can’t port their V8 JavaScript engine for iOS. The V8 engine is primarily responsible for the speed Chrome is famous for. Another possible limitation could be non availability of public APIs to enable GPU acceleration.

There is, however, a silver lining despite these problems. As Siegler notes, Chrome and Safari are both based on WebKit, the open source web browser engine. Both Apple and Google contribute code to the project. So even if, theoretically, Chrome for iOS ends up being just a wrapper around a UIWebView, Google does have a bunch of features that make it a killer for iOS devices especially for users who use Chrome on their desktop.

One such feature could be Sync. Chrome for Android implements sync really well, as per Siegler’s description. In addition to data like bookmarks, saved passwords etc., Chrome syncs opened tabs across multiple devices. Apple, for all its efforts around simplifying the Cloud, has failed to provide any such mechanism. The nearest to this is, “Reading List,” which isn’t all that good.

Mozilla does provide a syncing solution for iOS called Firefox Home, but it’s not that good.

Siegler adds:

It would be fantastic to get some of the Mobile Chrome UI elements on iOS. For one thing, the multi-tab experience is much better (and sort of Apple-like) [on Chrome for Andorid].

Google’s revenues directly depend on searches, which in turn to some extent depends on its penetration of the mobile browser market. And although Android devices may have a larger marketshare, almost every report on web browsing released up till now concludes that iOS users spend a lot more time online than Android users. Google wouldn’t want to let go of this lucrative share of users that surf the web a lot more than their counterparts.

Ironically, the Chrome browser is currently available only to 1 percent Android users who have an Ice Cream Sandwich device.

Chrome for Android

Siegler’s impressions of the browser after a few days of usage are positive. Although he did notice a few kinks, Google’s rapid update cycle would iron them out quickly.

We’d be thrilled to have Chrome on our iPhone and iPad. What about you?

[via MG Siegler’s blog]

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  • j4nuS

    would love to have this on my iphone.

    • Marlene

      Yeah, I would be stoked to have chrome on my iPhone since it’s the main browser I use on my mackbook…

  • tnt413

    The more competition – the better for us, users 🙂

  • JigaNet

    It’s sad to know tha Apple will never let this great piece of software run on the iPhone!!!!

    • tnt413

      Why not? It let Opera in

      • Opera renders web pages using the built in web view. Compression is where their tech lies, and apple has no problem with that.

  • JigaNet

    It’s sad to know tha Apple will never let this great piece of software run on the iPhone!

  • Bill

    Not really! Never got on with chrome, safari does all that I need but if anything the good old simple IE7!

  • Anonymous :)

    A good google chrome like browser for on the app store is dolphin 🙂

  • Anonymous :)

    A good google chrome like browser on the app store is dolphin 🙂

    • Anonymous :)

      Wahhh!!! Double post 🙁 Sorry about that everyone!!!

  • A1d3nh0

    UAFaker from cydia. ’nuff said.

  • Artis2l

    How about a jailbreak app Google Chrome?
    I use Google Chrome on my mac book and it works better than safari in my opinion.

  • apple just want their customer to be slave

  • Kerem

    As you know, Apple does not allow any browser to be the default one, except for the Safari on iOS. Chrome is kick ass, but if I can’t open for example mail links with it, I’d rather use Safari. (Atomic Web Browser is also good for downloads and browser identification spoofing)

    • Strulf

      Exactly, as long as there’s no possibility to change the default browser it makes no sense to use any browsers other than mobile Safari. Bummer.

      • Andy q

        I am a little behind here on the legal issues, but didn’t the usgov force Microsoft to allow deinstallation of IE and changing of the default browser? What prevents a similar scenario from playing out on iOS?

  • They should release it on cydia.

  • Strulf

    I would love to have Chrome on my iPhone since I use Chrome on my Macbook, too. There should be a setting however to open links from other apps such as Facebook in Chrome by default. That’s probably not possible.

  • Caleb

    It would be great as an app in cydia, no restrictions like Apple’s. The problem is that they don’t want to lose their relationship with apple, I’m sure a significant amount of their revenue comes from google being the default search engine in Safari.