Google Chrome for iOS Races Ahead to No.1 on Free App List

By Jonathan Charles | Jun 30, 2012 12:58 PM EDT

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Google Chrome for iOS - mobile versions of the desktop browser for iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad - launched June 28, but has already become the most popular free app on the iOS App Store. The app brings a very familiar experience compared to the desktop versions, especially on the iPad.

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The app is a universal app, meaning it works on iPhones and iPads and only a single download is needed. Universal apps also mean the app is designed for the iPhone's 3.6-inch screen and the iPad's 9.7-inch screen.

Along with bringing tabs and the universal search bar - called the Omnibar, which the current version of Safari for iOS doesn't offer - Chrome for iOS also asks users if a password does or doesn't want to be saved, and allows bookmarks and history to be synced across devices. That's done through a Google Account, which users can enter when starting up Chrome for iOS for the first time, and even syncs Web pages: loading a site on a iPhone, for example, and then refreshing an iPad will show both Web sites concurrently.

There's still the issue of not being able to set browser as default, though, meaning clicking a link in an e-mail - and just about anything that isn't entered directly into Chrome for iOS - will open Safari. Similar issues plague Sparrow, an e-mail client for iOS.

However a workaround has been created: Jon Abrams, a developer, has created a Safari bookmarklet to open a page that opens by default in Safari on Chrome. Copy and paste "javascript:location.href="googlechrome"+location.href.substring(4);" (without the quotation marks) into a bookmark. Rename the bookmark "Open in Chrome," or something as obvious, and replace the URL with the above code.

It's a quick workaround for a long overdue problem, in the eyes of many iOS users. Chrome's release on iOS marks an interesting contrast to when Google Voice was rejected from the App Store, as the browser goes directly against Safari.

The updated version of Safari for iOS, which brings a universal search bar among other features, arrives this fall.

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