Chrome for iOS
How does Google's new browser for the iPad and iPhone compare with Apple's Safari?
I own an Android phone, an iPad tablet, a Windows laptop, and an iMac desktop. I'm what some tech gurus may refer to as, "operating system agnostic." Each of these tools, and the software which fuels them, serve their own purpose and I have a preference for each in their respective form factors (such as Android for smartphone, Windows for laptop, iOS for tablet).
Across these devices--with the exception of my iPad--my browser of choice is Google Chrome. It's faster, safer, and more compatible with newer web technology than any of its rivals. Furthermore, the integration of all of Google's services--Gmail, Google Drive, YouTube, etc.--makes it best for me.
So I was excited to hear about the release of Chrome for iOS (iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) today. Safari for the iPad has many positives but is not perfect; however, there really isn't any real competition from third-party browsers since Apple only lets browsers based upon its underlying technology (which Firefox and Internet Explorer, among other browsers, are not compatible with). However, Google Chrome (largely) is. So I eagerly downloaded the new app and was excited to see that it allowed unlimited tabs and has a nearly identical user interface to the desktop version of Chrome (as is true with Safari on the iPad and on OS X). After using it for 10 or 15 minutes, however, I realized it was significantly slower than Safari.
It turns out that while Apple allows third-party browsers on the iPad and iPhone, only Safari is allowed to use code specifically compiled for those two devices to speed up its performance; no other browser is allowed to use this. In fact, no other program is allowed to use this.
For example, the app version of Facebook is really more or less a fancy version of the website--contained within a web browser of its own of sorts--but it isn't allowed access to the aforementioned code, causing performance issues. As many apps which have web-based counterparts are designed this way, this causes many programs to suffer.
It's upsetting that Apple does this. While there has, to date, not been a tablet released that can be in any way serious in competing with the iPad--but the software often leaves much to be desired. The app-store and bundled apps really lock the user in to a narrow environment where Apple can veto any competing applications and get a chunk of the profit of those it does approve. As the next version of OS X and Windows 8 both come with built-in app stores, and both strongly try to get users to get apps solely from said app stores, this is a slippery slope where Apple, Microsoft, and Google are not only controlling the operating systems for their products, but also the applications and hardware. Hopefully this trend does not continue in a way that is prejudiced towards Apple's own software.
Copyright 2012 Bob Caldwell, NMLS# 188544
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