Hands On With Google Chrome For iOS

At day two of I/O, Google repeated pretty much the same keynote, but it also finally announced Chrome for iOS. After a tortuous wait, it's landed in the iTunes App Store this afternoon, and I spent some time using it. And it's not quite what you'd hope.

Using It

Though Google framed it as being very similar to the same desktop browser we know and love, it's not. Chrome for iOS doesn't seem particularly intuitive. You tap the top right-hand corner to see all your tabs. There you can select a different page, dismiss another, or start a new tab. Once you're on a page, you can click the icon that has a stack of three lines for your options including new tab, incognito tab, bookmarks, other devices (for syncing), email, find in page, settings and help. When you're on one page, you can go to another one by swiping. Google said this was simple. But you have to swipe hard. Seriously, it takes some force.

New Tabs and Syncing

When you bring up a new tab, you get something that is pretty familiar to the desktop version. At the bottom of the screen, an icon with six boxes will show most-visited sites. To the right, the star obviously is for bookmarks. And the far right icon, which resembles a file folder, is your friend. Here you'll find all the tabs you have open on your computer. So if you were in the middle of a lengthy New Yorker article, you can pick it up without losing your spot. This of course is a signature feature of Chrome, but it was nice to have the 10 or so pages I had loaded up across the two screens of my computer automatically appear. And that is a pretty compelling reason to use Chrome as your default. Save for one problem -- speed, or rather, lack thereof.


Load times are slow and the browser lags when you scroll. Part of the problem is Chrome is inherently slow. It's just the way non-Safari iOS browsers are forced to work. And that sucks. You know how when you're trying to show someone a link on your phone and it takes forever to pull up the page? Maybe you're on a slow connection or in a dead spot, but you both sit there, silently, making painful, forced small talk as you try just try to look up the Jonestown Massacre on your iPhone. "How's your mum? She still in Florida -- oh thank GOD. Cult leader Jim Jones." It's uncomfortable. And you're going to have a lot of those moments with Chrome for iOS.

Final Impressions

Syncing and auto-complete are both convincing reasons to use Chrome, but without the speed you might find yourself running back to Safari. This is a case of choosing what features are more important to you, because of course, there are trade-offs. [iTunes App Store]



    Just downloaded it and have tested a few sites and they have loaded as fast as safari does, so far so good.

    I think that was a bit of a harsh review.

    Chrome does not lag during scrolling on my 4S. The search while you type feature works great, it's quite responsive on my mobile network (Telstra Next G). The interface has plenty of features that I can tell will be very handy once I become accustomed to them, such as swiping a page to delete the tab.

    The syncing of tabs with open chrome tabs on my Mac works great, despite my Mac being behind a proxy server at work.

    The only issue I have noticed so far is that I tried to tell Chrome to display the Gizmodo full site however it simply reloaded the mobile version of the page over and over. However I'm not sure if that's a chrome issue or a web page issue.

    as it is only the first release i expect the slowness to increase with future updates at the moment its a step in the right direction to the browser we love :)

    on a side note just a thought. what if we where to open a link in an application there is no way to default the browser to chrome thus meaning we will find ourselves back t safari.... thought???

      Jailbreak. Use browser change from cydia and you can change your default browser and all the in app links. Otherwise safari will continue to open as default.

    I have always preferred Google Chrome on my desktop since its release, mainly due to its minimalist interface, unified search/address bar and above all speed. I tried Google Chrome on iOS this morning and while it still nails the interface and usability, the sluggish performance really brings it down to the point where I'd stay with Safari. It's a shame that Apple still doesn't allow third party developers to use Nitro.

    That said, I was already pretty satisfied with Safari, especially modified with GridTab, a mod that makes tab browsing faster and more productive, and UAFaker to allow me to view desktop pages on sites that enforce the mobile version of the site.

    I am using Chrome for iOS now, it seems to be faster than safari.

    It's not too bad.

    just installed it on my 4S, went to install it on my iPad, Gone !

    Cant find it anywhere - !?

      @geoffc - Find my iPhone: http://www.apple.com/iphone/built-in-apps/find-my-iphone.html You can't really blame this on Chrome though...

      Had the same issue for a few seconds, then I looked in Purchased and it was the first one there.

    It's been pulled from the store already.

    Probably because the license agreement was blank for some users - my experience.

      Has it? it's still in the app store for me.

    Im using it now tethered to my iPhone. I like the interface and it looks nice just like on my PC but it lags a lot on my jailbroken iPad 3. Hopefully they'll fix it in the future. I downloaded browser changer tweak from Cydia but it doesn't have a setting to change chrome to the default browser. Maybe I missed it but hopefully that'll be updated as well soon.

    Same as Safari pretty much, if only it had Flash support.

      Adobe have just announced it is pulling support for flash mobile plugin on ALL platforms and won't be supported in Jellybean. Need a tissue?

    I downloaded it yesterday for my Ipad... Personally I want something with a few more options. Load times were OK but scrolling was laggy. Still prefer Atomic Web Browser fro the pad.

    Yeah I don't mind the iOS version so far not bad loading for me on 4s. Gizmodo page has issues though clicking on a link the back to the main page doesn't go back to where you where but to top of the page and click load more until back to where you were. Not sure if it's chrome or way mobile site is coded.

    This is all good and well, but what's it's porn mode like?

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