Fans of alternative web browsers rejoice- one of the internet’s most popular browsers has finally made its way to iOS. Google Chrome has made surprising strides in popularity over the past few years, recently surpassing Internet Explorer as the most popular browser worldwide (it had done so briefly once before, only to relinquish its standing shortly thereafter).
Chrome’s success has several factors; being a Google product means that it meshes perfectly with the rest of Google’s web products like Gmail. The browser eases the process of switching from other browsers through some slick import features, drawing your bookmarks and favorites from any other browser you had been using and using the same keyboard shortcuts of competitors. Chrome even lives up to its short-lived television ads featuring how fast it renders pages; the browser is as snappy and feels faster than just about any that I’ve used. Chrome also has been found to consistently be the most secure of popular browsers due to its sandbox construction (isolating each tab from vital components).
The iOS version has a number of features sported by the full desktop one- tabbed browsing (offering unlimited tabs as opposed to mobile Safari’s limit of nine), syncing of bookmarks and browsing between clients (just as iOS 6 has advertised for Safari) and an easy-to-engage Incognito mode for when you’d rather not have your browsing history saved. Should the mobile version have issues rendering the page you’d like to see you have the option of loading the full desktop version instead, and it offers the ability to search by voice via a microphone tab in the browser.
I’ve used it for a few days now and have been impressed with it so far. I have used Chrome off and on for some time now on both Windows and my iMac and like its construction and performance. I’ve slowly been transitioning from using Google services like Documents to iCloud, so I haven’t used the browser’s full capacity lately, but still feel very comfortable with it. Apparently I’m not the only one that feels this way, as the iOS version of Chrome became iTune’s top app shortly after its release.
All isn’t wine and roses, though. iOS users can’t change their default browser, so clicking a link in another app will still open in the default Safari. While quick, the iOS version of Chrome isn’t as fluid rendering Java, so pages that rely heavily on the programming language will load noticeably slower than in Safari. That being acknowledged, if you use Chrome as your default browser on your laptop or desktop it’s a welcome addition to the iTunes app store. Just like the desktop version, the iOS version of Chrome is absolutely free.
The addition of Chrome to iOS is the latest in a quiet strategy Google has been employing to keep their products in the hands of iOS users. Many of the Google apps built into Android have been slowly added to the iOS app store. The official Google app feels like a little slice of Android, offering Google Places, Plus, Earth, Latitude, Books, Gmail, Sync, Shopper, Blogger, Translate, Maps (now that Apple has announced their own native Maps app), even Google Voice. Just as with their mobile operating system, these products don’t directly earn Google any revenue, they act as a feeder system to Google’s actual business- selling advertising. No other competitor tailors their advertising or displays it as effectively as Google. Your actions, be it on any of the aforementioned apps, in an email via Gmail, or something you’ve searched for via Google Search feeds into Google’s vast data harvesting and processing architecture resulting in personalized advertisements (sometimes more relevant than the results of your search) and a wealth of data mining information. The process is completely impersonal, so intense concerns over personal privacy aren’t warranted.
Google has been wildly popular by being the best in their field. While broad based, all of their ventures feed back to their primary business- getting the most effective ads to potential customers. Apple may be attempting to cut them out of their mobile platform, but Google won’t be disappearing anytime soon; you will just have to choose their services on iOS instead of relying on them as a default.