Top 10 Google Chrome features for iOS

By , Jun 29, 2012

As we reported yesterday, Google Chrome was released on iOS and it was met with much fanfare. Although it’s not, and probably never will be as fast as Safari (unless Apple decides to even the playing field), it tries to make up for the speed difference with awesome features like cross-platform syncing, the Omnibox, and much more.

With this in mind, we’ve decided to cover 10 of our favorite things about Google Chrome for iOS. Who knows? Perhaps there will be a few items on the list that you weren’t even aware of…

Watch the video above for a synopsis of each feature in action, and read below for more in-depth written detail. Remember that the following list of 10 items is in no particular order.

Built in voice search

Just like the Google app that’s been available on iOS seemingly forever, you can now perform voice searches directly in the browser using Google Chrome. This is, of course, infinitely more useful than the standalone Google app.

Incognito mode

Incognito mode isn’t as, well, incognito as it is on a desktop browser due to the limitations imposed on it by iOS. Still, history isn’t saved, Omnibox search suggestions are disabled, and passwords aren’t remembered, as you would expect.

Even more awesome is that fact that you can switch to Incognito mode within the browser, and Incognito tabs act as if they’re a part of their own separate browser. In other words, it’s a much more seamless experience than what you get with Safari.

Tab syncing

Just like iCloud tabs for Safari in iOS 6, Google Chrome allows you to access open tabs from any device running Chrome. I was able to access tabs from my desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone with ease. This feature makes it easy to simply pick up where you left off no matter where you are.

Easy access to desktop versions of websites

Don’t you just hate it when a site forces you to use its mobile version instead of its desktop version? To remedy this issue Google has included a feature within Chrome that allows you to request the desktop version of a site with the simple tap of a button.

Swipe gestures

Both the iPhone and iPad versions of Google Chrome feature their own respective style of swipe gestures. On the iPad, you can swipe from outside of the screen and drag while holding to switch tabs (see our video for a demo). On the iPhone, a drag and flick while in tab view will quickly dismiss a tab.

Most visited

Speed dial is a feature that’s almost become a standard on desktop browsers. Whenever you open a new tab, a window is presented to you with your most visited websites so that you can quickly access them again. In Chrome this is labeled as “Most visited”. For your convenience, Google has included links to recently closed pages as well. This is handy if you accidentally close a page and can’t remember what the address of the page was.

Bookmarks

One of the great things about Google Chrome is that everything can be synced to your Google account. That means that you can save all of your bookmarks and access them on any device that’s running Google Chrome. Just make sure to sign in to Chrome with your Google account, and voila, all of your bookmarks at your fingertips. Google Chrome also separates your desktop and mobile bookmarks, but you can easily access them both from either a desktop of mobile browser.

Omnibox & History Access

Have you noticed that Google Chrome lacks a dedicated window for searching? That’s because both search and direct address browsing are performed via the same window. In fact, Apple has adopted this very feature for its latest version of Safari for the Desktop (still in development). Sadly, though, no such thing exists for mobile Safari, even with the iOS 6 beta. Trust me, once you’ve actually used the Omnibox, searching via a dedicated search field just seems archaic and goofy.

Preloading and predictive search

It’s true, Google doesn’t have access to the same Nitro Javascript enhancements that Safari does, but they’ve sought to make up for the discrepancy with the ability to preload websites. You can choose to relegate this feature to Wifi only, or you can disable it outright if you choose to do so. There’s also predicative search capability, and this too can be disabled if you’re at all concerned about privacy.

It’s not as slow as some make it out to be

Granted, Chrome, or any other browser for that matter will always be technically inferior under the hood as long as Apple restricts APIs and access to features like Javascript enhancements from 3rd party apps. A few may cry foul, but I strongly believe that the benefits of Chrome can easily make the extra few tenths of a second it takes to load a web page totally worth it.

What do you think about our top 10 list? Did we blatantly miss anything? Sound off below with your top 10 Google Chrome features!

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  • sasan akbari

    I’ll give a try!

  • http://twitter.com/omgwutsthat Clark Wallace

    The minute Chrome for iOS appeared in the U.K. app store I was all over it, bye bye Safari.

    One question though, I’ve made Chrome my default browser and Sparrow is my default mail app and both of these apps sit in my dock. Now me being all neat and tidy I like to reset home screen layout now and again to alphabetize my apps. Is there any way to lock the dock icons so they don’t budge when resetting home screen layout?

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      No, but that’ll only take you 5 seconds to rearrange :P

  • apple_man9

    Now we need a Jailbreak tweak that allows Google Chrome to use the Nitro JavaScript Engine

    • 50bbx

      and a downloader.

  • http://twitter.com/Jason_Gagne Jason Gagne

    I’d love to try it .. if I could log into Chrome for iOS :-(

    • billypuntove

      I don’t get it. Why can’t you?!

  • CollegiateLad

    I hope we don’t ever descend into a nation of bloggers. First, Chrome isn’t inferior due to some negligible speed difference. Second, google baked in these awesome features because that’s what they do – they make some pretty nice products, not because Safari is faster!!! Even with nitro java access, Chrome would still be just as awesome. This might be the best browsing experience on a mobile device.

  • DJ79KHALED

    Has anyone been tempted to switch to galaxy nexus and try for it for couple months before the new iPhone come out….)…I’m…. as matter of fact I order one and just sold my iPhone 4s….

  • amberkiiphone3g

    I love the request desktop version

  • Dan

    Been using chrome since yesterday and I love it. I always had trouble finding a good safari replacement until now. I’ve already hidden the safari icon lol.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1016087499 Ruud Dé Brûíñ

    I love it already much better than safari

  • billypuntove

    Can someone tell me why the syncing tab could be not working for me?
    I’m using the same account on my laptop by my “Other devices..” page on the app is blank :s

    HELP PLEASE!

    • Kok Hean

      Did you set it in your device settings?

      • billypuntove

        what do you mean?
        Where’s this? iPhone, desktop? Where exactly..? Thanks!

        PS. On the iPhone Chrome settings “Sync” is on.

      • Kok Hean

        Odd, it’s working perfectly for me. Just view a web page for a while, and it should sync perfectly. I also had to enable it on my computer’s chrome settings.

      • billypuntove

        This worked!! Thank you so much.
        It turns out there were to checkboxes on my desktop Chrome syncs settings that were not checked (tabs and omnibox settings)
        Of course the tabs box was keeping me from seeing them on the app. Thanks again!

  • http://twitter.com/Ramesses Messiah

    Jeff, One thing tho, I’m not sure if you aware of, you can’t download any files on it, including PDF, you know in safari, after you open a pdf files, you have the option to save it to Dropbox or open in iBook..

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      Good point. You can view PDF, you just don’t appear to have the ability to open in…

      • SimonReidy

        Damn, I didn’t even think to try that. There’s a few missing features I’m beginning to notice (no button or gesture for fullscreen and limited content sharing options are another couple) but hopefully Google will address iOS integration better in future updates.

  • billypuntove

    That search “arrow” option is SO GREAT!!
    In Safari, as everyone knows, you’d have to click on an option and click the bar again to stop the loading and continue typing. So many times I wish I could do what Chrome does now and here it is. Google delivers.

    (Now, don’t start and Android/iOS hate post. I’m taling about Google. Google and Chrome)

  • SimonReidy

    Its awesome, no doubt. However just to nitpick I use a lot of bookmarklets on my bookmark bar in Safari, and while the web based method of accessing bookmarks on Chrome is awesome, it doesn’t seem to allow a way to run a bookmark as a simple JavaScript extension (bookmarklet) over an open site (i.e. the “Add to Pocket or Instapaper bookmarklets). Someone will hopefully find a way around this.

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      I’ve noticed this as well. Currently investigating a solution. Bookmarklets are a must.

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      This is something that Google themselves will likely have to fix. The only workaround that i could find was to past the javascript into the address bar of the page you’re trying to influence. That worked for me. It’s clunky though.

      • SimonReidy

        I was about to post the same thing about manually copying the JavaScript in. However only slightly better workaround is to use “ActionMenu” and set up bookmarklets under “favourites” to quickly paste in. That’s the easiest workaround for now I think.

    • http://twitter.com/Rauldzmartin Raúl D.Martín

      You can easily copy the URL, open pocket and it will offer you to add the link. Pretty easy and fast!

      • Simon Reidy

        Yep, that’s fine for Pocket, but I have around 20 twenty bookmarklets on all the browsers I use on my iPad that can do all sorts of nifty things to the page you’re on (or open the page in different iOS apps). These bookmarklets work in Safari and on every 3rd party webkit browser in The App Store, including Chrome. However Chrome’s problem is no visible bookmark bar to activate them from without moving away from the page you’re on (as the bookmarks are cloud based).

        At the moment I’m relying on the awesome tweak; ActionMenu. As you can use the favorite section to save the giant javascript URLS, then manually paste them into Chrome’s omibar. Its messy but it works :)

      • Trialsofsharks

        I had the same problem. The easiest solution I found was saving all my bookmarklets as ‘send to servicename’ or just something easy and simple to remember so when I want to send something to my pocket for example I tap the URL and start writing send and it will list your bookmarks named ‘send …” than you just choose the one you want to use.

      • No Whammy

        Nice workaround. Pretty damn graceful.

  • Yan Kar

    can you guys compare chrome to dolphin?

    • Dan

      I used to use Dolphin on my iPhone 4, I can assure you that chrome is faster and has better functions. Also, you don’t need to pay for the voice utility.

  • http://twitter.com/mattbrown87 Matt Brown

    Anyone know if there’s a way to get Chrome bookmarks on the home screen? Thanks!

    • http://www.facebook.com/hayden.jenkins.568 Hayden Jenkins

      you can add them from safari, make chrome your default with browser changer, and then they will open with chrome

      • http://www.facebook.com/jjchapman Joseph Chapman

        What’s browser changer? I’m trying to do this too.

  • billypuntove

    I really want to see the refresh button like in Safari and, equally or more importantly, a stop button. There have already been cases where I needed the stop button because I clicked on something by mistake.
    I really want that!

    • http://twitter.com/WonkieInc Luke Thompson

      …there already is both

  • http://www.facebook.com/saul.ga.1 Saúl Ga

    In the swipe gestures on iPhone you missed something. When you swipe from either the right or the left of the screen (like zephyr) you can switch between tabs

  • http://twitter.com/chrpye chrpye

    Hi jeff,
    How to transfer current Mobile Safari bookmarks to the Chrome iOS Mobile bookmarks app ?

  • Rasheed Samite

    I’m totally missing Safari Upload Enabler and Download, please come out with this tweak for Chrome

  • hkpuipui99

    I’m still having trouble syncing it to my Google account :-( Anyone else still having trouble like I am?

  • cruzcontrol1001

    With safari dowloader this isnt worth a look for me but I’m sure it is a great alternative for those who like google chrome.

  • BoardDWorld

    FREE CHOCOLATES EVERYONE, COME GET YOUR FREE CHOCOLATES! MUEHAHAHAHA!!! MUUUEHAHAHAHA!!! MUUUUUUEHAHAHAHAAHAAAHAAA!!!

    Couldn’t pay me to put it on…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dejan-Ljepava/1153451343 Dejan Ljepava

    my browser of choice for android and ipad is still dolphin browser.

  • Wael Abdo

    at last the best browser is on ios…

  • orangesn0w

    You can have more than 9 tabs open? :)

  • http://www.iosnoops.com Damian Ragar

    Chrome for iOS is nice, but it’s not a revolution IMO, I still fail to see why there’s such a hype about it, except the fact that it comes from Google (and Apple as well, remember they use Apple’s webkit). It’s a good thing though, will push Apple to make Mobile Safari even better!

    • http://www.facebook.com/hayden.jenkins.568 Hayden Jenkins

      its awesome for chrome desktop users because we can sync everything to our idevice.

  • Ricky Lawry

    But both safari and chrome dont have download option…. So for me both are uselesss
    Even atomic browser and most third party browsers in appstore have the download option, then why not chrome???
    Its disappointing!!!

  • http://foreveramused.tumblr.com mucup

    It’s hard to describe, but does chrome have the feature in safari that you tap just below the url field and it skips to the top of the page? It’s annoying scrolling up for ages long page like these.

    • Nathan Chang

      Almost everywhere in iOS you can tap the status bar and then it will scroll to the top of the page.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fuhrmanator Cris Fuhrman

    I tap in the Omnibox rightly selects all. However, there is no button for copy, paste, etc. as with a normal selection. You have to do several more taps to make it work. This seems to be an inefficient design.

  • joecassara

    Chrome for iOS plays YouTube videos in background tabs, which Safari does not do.

  • Nevrc

    I miss a bookmark bar and the ability to view bookmarks as lists rather than icons. Are these IOS limitations?

  • http://twitter.com/PoisonBlog PoisonParadise.com

    I love the Google Chrome app. It is cleaner, sleeker, and syncs to my Google Chrome on my desktop computer. The only thing I use Safari app for is downloading animated gifs from websites so that I can send them in text messages or elsewhere. Unfortunately, when you download gifs using Google Chrome app, they will not animate when you send them.