On day two of Google’s I/O 2012 conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President of Google Chrome announced Chrome for iOS. This finally brings one of the most popular browsers to Apple’s mobile platform which includes the iPhone, iPad and the iPod Touch. The app became available in the app store just a few hours after the announcement and if you haven’t downloaded it already, you can grab it from this link right here. This version of Chrome for iOS however is not the same as the one for the desktop and Android as it still uses Safari’s browser engine as the backend. Google had to make this compromise since it’s the only way they could port the browser to iOS since Apple does not allow any browser in the app store if they don’t use their engine. You can think of Chrome on iOS as a new skin for Safari along with the features that come with Chrome of course. The trade-off here is performance as it’s a lot slower compared to its Android counterpart as it has to use WebKit.

Chrome comes to iOS

Chrome comes to iOS

ArsTechnica reports some of the reasons for the slowdowns experienced in iOS, “Because of Apple's own App Store restrictions, Google is limited to building Chrome for iOS on (the iOS supplied version of) WebKit. Safari is also built on WebKit, and has a bonus advantage of being able to use its Nitro JavScript engine, which is not available to outside apps. (Nitro is limited entirely to Mobile Safari or bookmarked Web apps saved as home screen icons as of iOS 5.) As such, Chrome is at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to overall speed, though depending on the user, this speed difference may or may not be noticeable.”

Features like the ability to sync web pages across devices seem to work just fine. For instance, if you’re browsing a website on your Android phone using Chrome and then switch to the iPad, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off through Chrome as it will automatically sync all your opened tabs and bookmarks, provided you have signed in of course. It’s also easier to launch ‘Incognito Mode’ right from the menu in the browser rather than having to go to Settings, which is the case in Safari. Chrome also offers to save your passwords. One thing that iOS users will probably never get is the ability to set another browser as the default. This mean while you can launch and use Chrome on iOS, clicking a link in an email will always open Safari and nothing else. This is something I’m sure iOS users have gotten used to by now.

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