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May 30, 2013

Chrome for iOS, Not a Fast Browser

Chrome for iOS doesn't have a lot of things in common with the desktop Chrome or Chrome for Android. It doesn't use the latest WebKit rendering engine and can't switch to Blink, it doesn't use the V8 JavaScript engine, it doesn't have a multi-process architecture. These are iOS limitations and all third-party iOS browsers are built using UIWebView, so they use the same rendering engine and the same JavaScript engine, which is slower than Safari's Nitro (Opera Mini is just an OBML reader, not a browser, because pages are rendered using Opera's servers).

I was surprised to see an ad for Chrome when visiting Google's homepage in Safari for iPad: "Browse fast on your iPad. Install Google Chrome." Chrome for iOS is not fast, it's a lot slower than Safari and that's not Google's fault. It's even a little bit slower than other third-party browsers.

Even the Chrome for iOS homepage claims that you can "browse fast and sign in to bring your Chrome experience from your computer, anywhere you go". Sure, Chrome combines the address bar and the search box, preloads web pages and shows the most visited pages, but it's not a faster browser than Safari.

From Tom's Hardware: "In the end, any third-party Web browser on iOS is essentially tantamount to using an older version of Safari with a slightly different user interface and additional features. Due to Apple's App Store mandate that all third-party iOS browsers utilize Safari's stock engines, browser competition on this mobile operating system is practically non-existent. Unless Apple reverses course, allowing other developers to compete using their own unique rending and JavaScript engines."

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