In case you haven’t heard, Google just launched the Chrome browser for Android. It is free, in beta and available for all Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) devices.Chrome for Android

Since Chrome has made the move to mobile devices, MG Siegler wonders about a similar version for iOS.

When he asked Google SVP from Chrome, Sundar Pichai, about Chrome for iOS, his reply was:

“It’s a tough question for us.”

His response isn’t really hard to decrypt. Given Apple’s strict policies of disallowing any code interpreters on the App Store, Google’s engineers can’t port their V8 JavaScript engine for iOS.

The V8 engine is primarily responsible for the speed Chrome is famous for. Another possible limitation could be non availability of public APIs to enable GPU acceleration.

There is, however, a silver lining despite these problems. As Siegler notes, Chrome and Safari are both based on WebKit, the open source web browser engine. Both Apple and Google contribute code to the project. So even if, theoretically, Chrome for iOS ends up being just a wrapper around a UIWebView, Google does have a bunch of features that make it a killer for iOS devices especially for users who use Chrome on their desktop.

One such feature could be Sync. Chrome for Android implements sync really well, as per Siegler’s description. In addition to data like bookmarks, saved passwords etc., Chrome syncs opened tabs across multiple devices. Apple, for all its efforts around simplifying the Cloud, has failed to provide any such mechanism. The nearest to this is, “Reading List,” which isn’t all that good.

Mozilla does provide a syncing solution for iOS called Firefox Home, but it’s not that good.

Siegler adds:

It would be fantastic to get some of the Mobile Chrome UI elements on iOS. For one thing, the multi-tab experience is much better (and sort of Apple-like) [on Chrome for Andorid].

Google’s revenues directly depend on searches, which in turn to some extent depends on its penetration of the mobile browser market. And although Android devices may have a larger marketshare, almost every report on web browsing released up till now concludes that iOS users spend a lot more time online than Android users. Google wouldn’t want to let go of this lucrative share of users that surf the web a lot more than their counterparts.

Ironically, the Chrome browser is currently available only to 1 percent Android users who have an Ice Cream Sandwich device.

Chrome for Android

Siegler’s impressions of the browser after a few days of usage are positive. Although he did notice a few kinks, Google’s rapid update cycle would iron them out quickly.


We’d be thrilled to have Chrome on our iPhone and iPad. What about you?

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