Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad review

Chrome for iPhone and iPad review

Earlier today, Google announced and then rapidly released Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad, leaving many of us screaming "finally!" Google Chrome is a very popular -- the most popular, according to Google -- web browser for Mac and PC. It lets you keep bookmarks, tabs, logins and more synced between computers. With Google Chrome for iOS, you can now bring that same personalized experience to your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Chrome is possibly the best Google app for iOS released to date. Where Google often creates less than stellar user experiences by badly wrapping an iOS interface around a web app, Chrome shows a lot of care and consideration. Ironically, Chrome is also the one app that really needs to be an interfaced wrapped around the web.

Right from the beginning, Chrome offers you interface hints and an optional slideshow tutorial to get you started. Right up front, that nicely handles any worries that their more complex interface would be less accessible.

I really like the look of Google Chrome on the iPhone and iPad. It's very clean and well designed. You are allowed an infinite number of tabs that you can easily scroll through. On the iPad, the tabs will just start piling up on one end of the tool bar and scrolling through the tab bar will reveal more tabs, moving the pile to the other end. On the iPhone, You have to tap on the windows button which will show all your tabs like stacks of folders on top of each other that you can scroll up and down through.

To get rid of a tab from the stack, you can also just tap, hold, and through it away. While viewing a webpage, you can also switch between tabs by swiping left or right to the next/previous one. Nice touches, both.

There is a nod to Android design in Chrome, with the look of the menu/options button and the close buttons being on the right instead of the left the way Apple does them, but none of it is jarring or too out of place.

If you select a tab that has grown "stale", it will first be displayed in black and white before quickly being refreshed by Google Chrome. In general, the animations are cute if not yet perfectly smooth.

Just like with Google Chrome for desktop, the search and web address field are the same. You can either type in a term that you want to search and watch suggestions appear as you type, or you can enter a full web address before hitting Go. Google Chrome is smart enough (usually) to figure out when you want to go to specific website or perform a search.

Speaking of which, if you're logged in to both Chrome on the desktop and Chrome on iOS (or Android), everything is automagically synced between all your open browsers.

Overall, I'm very impressed with Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad. It's fast, pretty, and functional. My only complaint is that with data heavy websites, scrolling isn't buttery smooth like with Safari.

Which brings us to the limitations imposed on Chrome (and all App Store browsers) by iOS.

First, iOS doesn't currently allow you to change the default browser like you can on a desktop OS like OS X or Windows. That means, if you tap on a link in Mail, Twitter, or anywhere else, your iPhone or iPad will automatically launch Safari even if you would rather use Chrome.

Second, iOS doesn't currently allow 3rd party HTML or JavaScript rendering engines. Chrome has to use the built-in WebKit engine (provided by UIWebView in this case) to display web pages, so they look like Safari or any other embedded web viewer on iOS. Worse, for security reasons, UIWebView isn't allowed to use Apple's faster, just-in-time Nitro JavaScript engine. That means any JavaScript heavy website will always render slower in Chrome (or in any app) than it will in Safari.

Again, none of these issues are Chrome's fault, but is still something to consider when deciding if you're going to switch to using Chrome. That includes not only passwords and bookmarks, but even tabs. If you open movie times on your desktop, then leave the house and forget them, you can access that exact same page right from the options menu in Chrome.

Yes, that means you should probably be careful which tabs you open while out and about if you don't want them to be seen by someone at home, or which tabs you open at home if you don't want them to be seen by people at work. Or, you can just open up an Incognito tab and keep your private browsing private.

(Safari in iOS 6 will be providing iCloud tab syncing as well, so this is all part of our connected future.)

The good

  • Nice design
  • Fast
  • Syncs with Google Chrome for desktop
  • Infinite number of tabs allowed
  • Scroll though tabs
  • Incognito mode

The bad

  • Scrolling isn't buttery smooth

The bottom line

If you use Google Chrome on your Mac or PC, you definitely want to start using Google Chrome on your iPad and iPhone. It's an awesome browser and the synced personalizations is priceless. If you don't use Google Chrome, you may want to start.

Free - Download Now

Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

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Reader comments

Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad review

38 Comments

Agreed, on all fronts.
I think the popularity of Chrome may cause Apple to not allow a custom browser selection. I think they know a great many people will ditch Safari for Chrome [or other browser] and it is reason enough to not let apps use Nitro/etc as well.
Hopefully they don't pull the petty card again but it is their playground so we'll see.

this is gonna give dolphin a run for it's money on my iphone. As for Safari. I don't even use it unless i'm forced to.

"First, iOS doesn't currently allow you to change the default browser like you can on a desktop OS like OS X or Windows."
Um, and Android! Again, limitations in iOS only hurt the customer.

yawn. dude so what. If it mattered i'd be on another phone. fight the fanboy platform wars somewhere else. What are you 13?

The last two tipb reviews highlight an odd role reversal -- with Chrome it is Google lavishing some extra care on design, and with Podcasts it is Apple releasing something to the public without enough thought given to the user experience.

Unfortunately, it does not look like it supports bookmarklets. Emailing to your specified account is a workaround, but not as nice as the bookmarklet.

This browser isn't currently supported in Browser Changer for jail broken devices.
If it was, Safari would be instant history on my iPad.

MAJOR problem!! Installed Chrome for iPhone and when trying to sync my Chrome setting to the iPhone version, I get the tutorial "Account sign-in details are out of date". I don't know what they mean...but my password is the same on Chrome on two computers and works just fine...but it won't work with Chrome for iPhone. Not good, Google.

Go to Settings >> Signed in to Chrome >> Advanced and then turn off Sync Everything. Then turn off Sync Passwords. Then it syncs everything else fine.
Not really a fix, but a workaround for now.

NP. Just wanted to post an update. If you go to your Google Dashboard on your desktop under Chrome Sync there is a link to Stop sync and delete data from Google.
First, shut down Chrome on your iDevice. Then click that link in your Desktop version of Chrome. The click the wrench icon in Chrome and go to Settings. Then sign back in to turn sync back on.
The go back to Chrome on your iDevice and have it sync everything again. This will likely crash Chrome, but when you restart everything will work perfectly.
Did for me anyway. Good luck!

I don't get it, why would any of the hardcore Apple base even think of giving Chrome a try? All you are doing is facilitating and pumping money into the Google machine. You are all being duped. Don't fall for it. This is how it works.
You know the field where you where you normally type in a URL into a browser? Well in Chrome it's actually the Google search engine. Every time you type "www.imore.com" into Chrome, you are effectively doing a Google search which costs iMore money in advertising.
Think about it. Google getting paid an advertising fee for a URL you already know and iMore footing the bill. It's insanity!

So what?
I'll use what suits my needs. I'm impartial. I don't care who makes it or any childish tech geek anti-insert hated company name here, battle. I just want something that does a good enough job. I use google email, microsoft's sky drive, i don't use icloud i use a google music instead, i have third party apps. I'm not anti-google like you.

Oh here's one more thing. I use firefox on a desktop because i'm not fond of the stark look of chrome, where the tab bar is place and i've found it hard to get my bookmarks imported and organized properly. I had to uninstall, clean them all up, reimport them from firefox and now they are at least organized but in the process i reverted back to firefox after trying chrome for two weeks. I did like that i did better with html5 and handle most sites without needing a flash plugin that constantly crashes. But point is even though i like the chrome browser on ios i'm not a slave to it and don't use it on a desktop yet because i'm driven mostly by whether it does the job. And if i can ever get comfortable with chrome on a browser maybe then i'll switch.

Yur welcome. Call it what you want, but I don't like there model, and getting my info sold.

I think Apple limiting other browsers and not theirs might be considered Anti competitive behavior. Didn't something similar happen with Microsoft and IE?

And Windows is Microsoft's platform but that didn't stop the US government from suing them and winning over Internet Explorer.

Chrome on iOS should be compared to the other longer existing alternative browsers for iOS. For example iCab Mobile offers way more than Chrome.

That's ok, man. Ryan can keep his head buried up his azz while google exploits his personal info. The rest of us know to stay away from google products.

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