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June 28, 2012

Chrome for iOS

Chrome has more than 310 million active users and it's the most popular browser in the world, according to Google's data. It's available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android and now iOS. That's right, you can install Chrome on an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad that runs iOS 4.3+.

Obviously, Chrome for iOS doesn't use the V8 JavaScript engine and it's has to rely on Safari's old JavaScript engine. The bad news for Chrome and all the other third-party apps is that they can't use Apple's fast Nitro JavaScript engine and the only app that can use it is Safari. That means Chrome on iOS is slower than Safari and slower than Chrome on Android. According to, Chrome's JavaScript performance is almost three times worse than Safari's performance.

So why use it? It borrows the interface of Chrome for Android, it syncs bookmarks, passwords and visited pages, it doesn't limit the number of tabs you can open, it has an incognito mode, it comes with the powerful Omnibox and integrates Google Voice Search.

Chrome for iOS is more about the ubiquity of Google's browser and being able to access your bookmarks and the pages you visit from almost any device.

Chrome has always being associated with the word "fast" and it's likely that many iPhone / iPad users will be disappointed that Chrome for iOS is not fast enough. Unfortunately, Apple's policies don't allow Google to use its own JavaScript engine or even Safari's fast JavaScript engine.

My other complaint is that Chrome for iPad uses a tab overflow feature that's annoying and far from intuitive. When you open many tabs, you'll notice that Chrome collapses exactly the tabs you've recently used.

When Google released Chrome 4 years ago, few people would have expected that the new browser will become more popular than Firefox and Internet Explorer. Chrome's popularity continues to grow and the new release for iOS will allow iPhone and iPad users to get a glimpse of Google's browser. Those who want more can buy an Android device.


  1. I'm curious if extensions will be allowed Chrome for iOS. It is antithetical to Google's business, but I like having AdBlock running with Chrome.

  2. I doubt it - it's against Apple's policies to allow an application to run external code/scripts.

  3. Chrome iOS keeps switching to a French language interface e.g. for the demo tour, based on my IP address. However my iPhone is set to English, my first language.

    When I travel to other countries I don't want to be switched to a language I don't understand. At least on my laptop I can work around Google's belief that that it should override my ui, browser and google account language settings. On a phone it's much harder to crawl through the URL to change it manually each time.

    Safari may be a shitty browser but at least it respects my language needs!

  4. Opera Mini for iOS is much faster than Chrome or Safari with the server side ore-rendering.

    1. Typo. I meant pre rendering

    2. Opera Mini is not a full-fledge browser, it's just the client for a server-side that processes a page and transforms into a simplified format. Opera Mini appears to be fast only if you have a slow connection (GPRS, Edge, slow 3G). Otherwise, the increased latency and the delay between asking Opera's servers to load a page and actually getting the page is noticeable. Not to mention that Opera Mini is a poor browser for Web apps and any page that uses a lot of JavaScript, Ajax, etc. because it's processed server-side and you have to wait and wait and wait until you receive the results from the server. Opera Mini is great for simple HTML pages when your connection is slow.

  5. well it will be like two diamonds in one ring, google chrome in ios will really rock the ios systems :)

  6. also using it specially on the ipad will be very great ease and all the surfing will be made so easily because of the chrome option and ios smotht touch

  7. I heard it was surprisingly fast considering its a third party browser so there's not a whole lot to worry about

    people use chrome b/c they use it everywhere else and b/c of chrome sync. I like it :)