Google’s Chrome for iOS is has been a dream for many who rely on the browser for their desktop web activity. It largely delivers on the iPhone and iPad with a fast browsing experience, though the essential feature for those who use Chrome regularly will be its syncing capabilities.
Those who have used Chrome on an Android phone or tablet will find the interface familiar. The start page has has a section for most visited sites, complete with recent screen shots. On the iPhone these are represented with icons, while the text for “most visited,” “bookmarks,” and “other devices” is along the bottom of the screen on the iPad.
Users can open multiple tabs and flick away the ones they want to close or, on the iPhone, swipe at the corner to switch between them. The syncing capability is very strong, as I found it to be nearly instant when switching between a MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad, and Nexus S.
Per Apple’s restrictions, users will still be forced to open Safari from other apps. However, most give you the option to “copy URL,” which you could do and then simply paste that web address into Chrome.
Chrome is zippier when connected to wifi, as the default setting is to preload pages. Change this in the settings for it to perform over a cellular network, though it could mean substantially more data usage.
The real problem this will solve will be the disconnect for those who used Chrome as their desktop browser, but an iPhone or iPad for mobile. While Safari is promising similar kind of syncing in iOS 6, Chrome has a solid head start and a chance to win over more users.
For those into the technical details, one disappointment is that Chrome on iOS will always perform behind its Android counterpart. That is because Apple forces third-party developers to use a downgraded version of the browser engine as a security measure. There are many voices, however, calling for iOS to change this stance. Given the popularity of Sparrow as an alternative e-mail client and the rising field of browsers, there may be some hope for a slight loosening of this stance.
Given the multi-device world that we live in, syncing bookmarks and browser sessions is an increasingly important component of staying up-to-date. While Chrome and other Google apps will likely get a first-rate treatment on Android, it is good to see the company took its time and developed a solid version of Chrome for iOS.