Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad hands-on

By Dan Seifert on

Google made some waves today when it announced that the Chrome Browser was coming to the Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The new Chrome Browser for iOS is very similar to the version available for Android 4.0 ICS devices, and offers advanced features like syncing with other computers and mobile devices that use Chrome.

Chrome for iOS has an uphill battle from the get-go in its effort to become the most used browser on the platform. Due to Apple's restrictions, third-party apps and browsers (such as Chrome) do not have access to the faster Nitro JavaScript engine that the default Safari browser uses. As a result of this, performance in many web apps is inferior in third-party browsers when compared to Apple's own software.

While Chrome is certainly slower in some tasks when compared to Safari, it uses some interesting user interface tricks to minimize the gap. The browser pre-fetches web pages to load them faster, and it has a very snappy and fluid user interface - even on an older iOS device like the original iPad tablet. As far as interface features go, Chrome for iOS offers all of the same features that the Android version has, including a fast and easy tab management system, Incognito browsing mode, and ability to request the desktop versions of web sites.

The most powerful part of Chrome, and the reason many people might choose to use it, is its ability to sync with other devices that are also running the browser. It is incredibly easy to access all of the tabs that are open on another device right from an iPhone or iPad, making it simple to move from the desktop to a mobile device. Users also can sync all of their bookmarks and saved passwords with the mobile iOS version of Chrome.

Unfortunately, iOS does not allow third-party web browsers to be set as default, so many users might have difficulty making the Chrome Browser their choice in day-to-day use. But if you use it just for accessing tabs on other devices alone, it may be worth keeping around on your iOS device. Chrome Browser for iOS is free and can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store now.

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