Google Chrome Explodes On To iOS, Puts Desktop Experience In Your Pocket

Google Chrome Explodes On To iOS, Puts Desktop Experience In Your Pocket | 40Tech

If you hadn’t already heard, Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad was released this week — and it promptly became the #1 free app on the app store. This is something that we’ve been waiting for with baited breath, and something that I, personally, was never sure would happen properly due to the rivalry between Apple and Google.

Have no doubt, though, it’s here — and it takes the best of Google Chrome’s desktop browser and jams it neatly and prettily into your pocket.

Google Chrome for iPhone | 40TechGoogle Chrome for iPad | 40Tech

One of the best features of Google Chrome for iOS is the integration of Chrome’s sync technology. If you have ever wanted the ability to open up any device — iPhone, iPad, Android, any computer that you’ve signed in to Google Chrome on — and pick up browsing from where you left off (again, on any of them), then you have reason enough to love Chrome for iOS app as the final piece in that puzzle.

It syncs your browsing history, open tabs, omnibar searches (yep, all that omnibar instant search power is in there, too), passwords, bookmarks, etc., etc., etc. Chrome was always great for being able to hop from computer to computer, but now you can hop from computer to computer to mobile and back again — and seamlessly, at that.

Chrome for iOS | Request Desktop Site | 40TechChrome for iOS | Bookmark Sync | 40TechGoogle Chrome for iOS | Sync Across All DevicesGoogle Chrome iPad App | 40Tech

That’s just the tip of it, though. Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad is blazingly fast, has an intuitive interface, and comes with niceties like easy, swipe-based tab switching, tracking of recently closed and most-visited web pages, voice-based search capability (Google’s not Siri’s),  search within web pages, and the ability to request a switch to desktop mode for entire sites at the touch of a button.

Google Chrome for iOS also includes Incognito Mode, and allows you to have as many open tabs in the browser as you damned well please. Chrome for iPhone is beautifully designed and extremely intuitive, and Chrome for iPad is the closest thing to a desktop browser that you will find on any tablet.

Chrome iPhone App | Omnibox Search | 40TechChrome iPhone App | Drag To Open, Close Tabs | 40TechChrome iOS App | Swipe to Change Tabs | 40TechChrome iOS App | Sign in to Sync | 40TechGoogle Chrome for iPhone, Google Chrome for iPad | Incognito Mode | 40TechChrome iPhone App | Collapse, Expand, Swipe Tabs | 40TechGoogle Chrome iOS App Settings | 40TechGoogle Chrome iPad App | Drag Tabs, Scroll Tabs | 40Tech

As with anything, though, Chrome for iOS is not perfect. There is no read later functionality, which you may miss if you love it in Safari, and heartbreakingly, there is a fairly consistent lag issue. Don’t get me wrong… when it works, it’s stupidly fast — but there are times, especially on pages with Javascript, that you will be typing or touching a button and nothing will happen for a few seconds. This can be an extreme pain in the ass, and may even be a deal-breaker for some. There may not even be much Google can do about it, because it could be related to Apple not giving other browsers on iOS access to their Nitro Javascript engine.

If you can get past the occasional (if persistent) few seconds of waiting, though, Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad could be your go-to web browser replacement for mobile Safari (it’s certainly more stable than Safari for iPad). The possibilities excite me to no end. I’m thinking some version of Chrome extensions would be a logical next step! Either way, Chrome for iOS gives me yet another reason to jailbreak my iPhone and iPad: to cull Safari out of default browser status, once and for all.

Get Google Chrome for iOS (iOS 4.3+)

Bobby Travis

Bobby isn't 40-something, but is a strong supporter of the Grown-up Geek kind. He's a loving husband and father first, but is also a freelance writer, productivity nut, operatically trained singer, and (not-so) closet geek. Check out his random thoughts, wackiness, and Instagram pics on Tumblr, Twitter, or Google+-- or just head over to bobby-travis.com.

11 Comments:

  1. I’ve seen reports online of folks installing Chrome for iOS, and deleting it before the day is out because it’s a dog performance-wise.

    Me, I’m holding off until the dust settles. Happy with Safari.

    • I’ve never really liked Safari, myself — could be just that I have to jailbreak to officially change it and am therefore stuck with it, though. On the iPad, I especially hate it. It is ridiculously crash-happy.

      The unfortunate truth about Chrome, however, is that, while when it works it’s fast and slick, when it hangs, it’s really annoying — which would explain why some people would drop it. I’m going to stick with it, though, I think. I hold out hope for the future and love the syncing.

  2. I’ve scanned review pages to find out if anyone is reporting on the inability to print from Chrome for iOS – I cannot find a print command in any of it’s menus or widgets!

    Can Chrome for iOS print? A deal breaker for me if it can’t.

    • Sorry, Steve, I can’t find that feature either. Bit odd, that — and good catch. You would think that Cloud Print would be enabled, at least.

      I’m hoping general sharing features will be in an update (one that comes out very soon).

  3. It’s probably just me being pedantic, but Chrome is not really a browser for iOS — it is merely a front end.

    iOS/Apple do not allow other browser Apps, but they do allow apps to use the built in Webkit engine, so although the ‘shop window’ looks like Chrome and gives you some of the nice features (like sync’ing) it still uses the Safari Webkit engine to surf, including the Javascript engine. So in theory it should be no faster, or not much slower.

    It will also never have all the lovely Chrome add-ons, but for me the big plus is the fact that I can sync my bookmarks easily with all my devices/Macs :-)

    • You’re right, David, it does use Safari’s Webkit — but no access to Nitro Javascript engine, unfortunately. There is definitely more to it than being just a Safari skin, though, and there is the possibility of more features to come.

      The interface and the syncing alone are enough to keep me, and the browser seems to be generally more stable (at least than the iPad version, which is terrible).

      There are ways to add some semblance of extension-like features, too. You can already do things like this in some iOS browsers via bookmarklets being built in to the browser, with the ability to add more in the settings. Hopefully an enterprising person will get on making some sort of standard here…

  4. It sure looks nice, but I doubt it can match iCab Mobile in terms of functionality, e.g. file down/upload, save webpages as PDF etc. That functionality is the only reason why I use another browser alongside Safari. I find it so annoying that links still open in Safari because you can’t set a 3rd party browser as default in iOS. Also, I recently went back to Firefox on my desktop because I can’t live without PDFit and Flash Downloader and couldn’t find Chrome add-ons to replace them, so there’s no bookmarks to sync (plus I think iCab can sync bookmarks via Dropbox, but I’ve yet to try it).

    • I haven’t used iCab in a while. I found that I liked Atomic Browser better. Chrome for iOS could use some of the functionality from those browsers, I suppose — but for me, I’ve never really needed most of them. It’s tab sync that I’ve always wanted, and that probably explains my crush. :)

      Back to Firefox, eh? Still a great browser, but I could never do it. I admit it… Google got me.

      And you could fix the links opening in Safari problem, if I recall — but only with a jailbreak.

      • I know, but I’d prefer not to jailbreak. Syncing tabs isn’t an issue for me, but doing research at home and on the go is. Unfortunately, that involves PDFing and downloading flash video and that doesn’t seem possible to the same standard in Chrome. The one thing I truly miss in FF is automatic translation of foreign language web pages, but other than that I never quite understood the appeal of Chrome. Perhaps because I don’t use apps?

        Oh, I’ll eventually get to wanting to sync my bookmarks as well, but I recently replaced my netbook with an iPad and, as a result, had to abandon Evernote as my primary database, so I have other priorities ATM. I’m on the way to rebuilding my workflow and I think it will actually be better than before, but it’s so much work! Also, I have A LOT of bookmarks on my desktop, so having fever – and different – bookmarks on my phone is quite nice. Often they are the mobile version, rather than desktop version of a website as that loads faster in areas of poor coverage. Cleaning out my bookmarks has long been on my to-do list though, so once that’s done I’ll surely look into syncing them to my phone as well.

  5. Isnt what apple (safari) is doing to chrome like what Microsoft did to Netscape back in the day?

    Apple won’t allow chrome or any other browser to use a good JavaScript engine. Chrome on iOS would be MUCH faster than safari if apple wasn’t such a bitch company like that… Apple can’t beat chrome, so they intentionally slow chrome down by making them use a slow JavaScript engine.

    Ps: I’m typing this from chrome on an ipad3, apple is a wickedly evil company though.

  6. Thanks to our conversation I finally cleaned out my bookmarks and synced them with iCab via Firefox Sync, including tabs and history. Seems to be working well for the moment.

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