Google Chrome on iOS

So my favourite browser has finally made it on to my favourite mobile operating system as last night Google Chrome for iOS was released.

I have downloaded it onto both my iPad and iPhone and I’ve been immediately impressed with just how much it looks like its desktop siblings, which shouldn’t be a great surprise, especially on the iPad.

There are a number of great things that have been brought over from the dekstop versions including the omnibar that allows you to enter either a web address or a search term and Chrome is intelligent enough to work out what you wanted. Better still is that as you type Chrome has a stab at guessing what it is that you might want be it a previous address or a search term and you can then select that saving a whole heap of time. The incognito mode is also available for more private browsing.

Better still is that if you log into your Google account you can synchronise your bookmarks and open tabs across all the places you use Chrome. This appears as a list showing all your synchronised devices, be that desktop or mobile, and all last opened tabs. You can then click to reopen on your device. I actually hadn’t used this on the desktop version of Chrome and it was a little hard to find and use but it is much better implemented and, in my opinion, more useful on a mobile device.

There has been much made elsewhere about how Apple has effectively nobbled all third party browsers on iOS by not allowing them to use the faster rendering engine that the native Safari uses or even implement their own engine – for a fuller brief on this have a read of this Techcrunch article. To me I noticed no speed differences whatsoever and this is because I don’t use Safari (at all anywhere) preferring to use the excellent iCab Mobile which has some neat tricks of its own up its sleeve such as Evernote, Instapaper and smart download support. And this is one area where Chrome for iOS falls down. If you open a link that is a PDF file this opens and displays beautifully in Chrome but you then can’t do anything with it, such as send it to Goodreader or any other third party app. Same applies to other file types such as doc and xls. It is this reason that may yet see my stick with iCab Mobile.

The other area where Apple’s restrictive policy makes Chrome and other third party browsers a less attractive option is that there is no way to choose what you want as the default browser (or mail app for that matter either). I wrote about this just before iOS6 was announced but as I said then Apple have no incentive to make this change. This means that any links that you click in an email, for example, will always be opened in Safari so you always end back up there eventually. The solution is to jailbreak your device and then can you make Chrome your default browser.

So Chrome for iOS is a great user experience with a few limitations. Some of these, such as the ability to open a file in a third party application, could be overcome by Google but others require the largess of Apple, which seems in short supply!

Will you be switching to Chrome on iOS or does Safari give you what you need? Let us know in the comments.

 

  • James Ayling

    I’m loving the Chrome on iOS, much better than Opera Mini as I was using before (Don’t even mention Safari). As I have jailbroken I have it set as my default browser and have hidden Safari all together.
    Best feature is ‘Other Devices’ which I hadn’t even noticed before in the desktop version.

  • Neil

    I’ve always shied away from jailbreaking my iPhone for fear of bricking it. Should I do it? How easy is it?

  • James Ayling

    Jailbreaking has become extremely easy. Just search for ‘Redsn0w’. The only downside of jailbreaking is that you won’t be on the cutting edge of iOS releases as there is usually a delay before the next version of the jailbreak is released to support new iOS. For me jailbreaking outweighs being on the latest iOS version.