Google has just launched Chrome for iOS, the long-awaited browser replacement we've all been hoping for, just a day after Chrome for Android came out of beta. While iOS still does not offer the ability to set your own default mail client or web browser, Chrome lets you take your tabs, bookmarks, saved passwords, and settings with you. The only bummer is that while Google claims that "you can enjoy the same speedy and simple Chrome experience across your devices," Apple's rules about third party browsers ultimately cripple it. John Herrman summed it up well, for BuzzFeed:
But other apps that want to include a browser function, be they Facebook or an actual alternative browser like Chrome, don't get Nitro. For security reasons, the browser developers get to use in their apps is a variant of an older, pre-Nitro version, called UIWebView. It's fine — it renders pages with the same fidelity as Mobile Safari. But it is slower. Noticeably slower.
Tap in the URL bar to instantly search or input a URL — like in Mountain Lion (and perhaps iOS 6, when it launches), Chrome's "omnibox" functions as both a search and URL bar. And whether you open pages on Chrome for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android, or Windows, all of your history and tabs stay synced. You do sometimes have to tap Refresh to force a sync, but the implementation works incredibly well. Another nice addition is a convenient "request desktop site" in the Settings drop-down if you get fed a mobile webview. Speaking of Settings, you'll find everything you need in the app's Settings menu. There's no bottom navigation bar for new tabs or sharing or bookmarks, but you still end up with just as much space for browsing onscreen because iOS' URL bar disappears as you browse, in contrast..
At the end of the day, Chrome power users on desktop are going to want to use Chrome for iOS. The app syncs history, bookmarks, and even tabs effortlessly. Unlike most apps Google has released for iOS, Chrome is filled with plenty of nice touches that illustrate how much effort was put into it. If the app ever crashes, you even get a "restore tabs" prompt, just like on desktop. There's Incognito mode (via a nice toggle on iPad) if you want to browse privately. A little shortcuts keyboard appears above the normal keyboard as you type in URLs. Edge swipe on iPhone generally works great, and could very easily become a UX idea other developers work off of. I think it's time to start begging for "the next big thing" from the big G.