Back when Google finally released Chrome browser for Android, Sundar Pichai, Google’s SVP of Chrome, didn’t flat out deny the possibility of Chrome coming to iOS.
Macquarie analyst Ben Schacte claims that Google’s Chrome team is indeed working to port Chrome to iOS.
The note claims that the launch could happen as early as this quarter, and the application might already be in the review phase. Even in the worst case, Macquarie analysts say that the launch would happen within this year.
Presently, Apple allows only those third party browsers that build on top of WebKit, the open source engine that powers Mobile Safari. Although Chrome is also derived from WebKit, it uses a lot of techniques that aren’t a part of this engine, and would most likely violate the App Store guidelines.
Even if Google stays clear of any possible violations, it can’t get around the fact that Apple doesn’t let a third party browser become the default choice, meaning that all links in Mail, Messages and other such apps would still open in Safari.
The other issue is that UIWebView, which Google would have to depend on for its Chrome app (like other native apps that load URLs), always lags mobile Safari by at least one or two minor iOS updates when it comes to performance improvements. So Chrome’s performance on the iPhone and iPad will not be better than mobile Safari. It remains to be seen if Google will be able to live with that, especially when it claims that “Google Chrome runs websites and applications with lightning speed” on its website.
Frankly, we wouldn’t count on Google releasing Chrome for iPhone and iPad.