Google takes aim at Safari, allegedly readying Chrome for iOS

Color me skeptical, but I’m still scratching my head over over a surprising report by Macquarie analyst Ben Schacter which has it that Google’s Chrome browser is coming to iOS some time during the June quarter of this year or, if not, then “definitely this year”.

If true, this would be a big news as Chrome ended 2011 within spitting distance of market-leading Internet Explorer. Heck, it even overtook Microsoft’s product to become the world’s most popular browser for a day and is certainly expected to become the top browser this year.

The big question is, will Apple allow Chrome into the App Store and let Google own all the searches? Bear in mind that the search giant currently pays Apple an estimated 60 percent revenue share for the searches done through Safari’s search box…

The analyst suggested that Apple may already be reviewing Google’s submitted code. I find it hard to believe for a number of reasons.

Apple’s guidelines for iOS development mandate that third-party browsers use the WebKit framework. Custom rendering engines such as Mozilla’s Gecko are a big no-no. Due to this policy, mobile Firefox is nowhere to be seen on the iOS platform.

Chrome’s and Safari’s engines are nothing alike and I doubt Google would agree to re-write Chrome for iOS on UIWebView. Apple is also unlikely to relax its policies just to give preferential treatment to a rival browser.

Of course, I could be wrong and the two rivals may have found an amicable solution.

Another problem: there’s currently no way to set your default browser in iOS. This is pretty annoying because any link tapped in another app, say Mail, takes one to Safari instead of a third-party browser, in this case Chrome.

The analyst also expects a major marketing campaign to push Chrome for iOS. Here, check out Google’s Chrome advert starring Lady GaGa.


Both Safari and Chrome are WebKit-based. In recent testing, both Chrome for Android and Safari for iOS scored a perfect 100 on the Acid3 test, which measures a browser’s ability to conform to web standards.

I’m also wondering how will Google adapt Chrome’s super-fast V8 Javascript engine under iOS.

Also important: Chrome for iOS wouldn’t just cut out Safari, letting Google keep all of the revenue it generates, it would potentially erode Safari’s market share as well.

A beta version of Chrome hit Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich in February. I’m liking it a lot and have been using it as a default browser on my Galaxy Nexus.

If an iOS version turns out anything like its Android counterpart, I can easily see myself using Safari on my iOS devices less frequently.

Forget iPod nano wrist watches, here comes a Google Chrome one. Kudos to Ade Oshineye, a London-based Developer Advocate at Google in the Google+ Developer Relations, for sharing this image of a Chrome watch in a blue band, adorned with a metal background and chrome logos for the hour signs.

I’m a heavy Chrome for Mac user. Chrome for iOS would theoretically let me have all of my bookmarks, history, settings and other data synchronized across my Macs and iOS devices. This includes the ability to continue browsing on my iPhone right where I left off on my Mac, down to open tabs and the most recently visited sites.

Of course, there are certainly plenty of third-party browsers for the iOS platform. I typically use Apple’s own Safari, but often find myself using Skyfire for its integrated social features as well as Mercury and Alexander Clauss’s iCab, both offering a bunch of advanced features and customization options.

As for my favorite Safari replacement, it’s the awesome Dolphin browser which has a huge Android following and comes with just the right features, cool gestures, clean interface and speedy performance.

Are you excited about Chrome for iOS?

What’s your favorite Safari replacement on iOS?