Google Announces Chrome and Drive for iOS

Chrome

Harrison Weber:

Believe it or not, Google has somehow struck a deal with Apple to bring Chrome into the App Store for both the iPad and iPhone. Google Chrome for iOS features all of the tab syncing and credential syncing features of Chrome for Android, allowing you to carry over your settings, browsing history and logins from any device to the iPhone and iPad.

[…] Today, Google Drive is coming to iOS and Chrome OS, for mobile devices. The app lets you save files for offline viewing, which is huge. The iOS release will be available today. As for Chrome OS, Google has introduced syncing in the background, and lightning fast document viewing. Everything is synced in real-time over all devices.

Although both are certainly welcome additions to the iOS ecosystem, I worry that Chrome will fall upon deaf ears. Considering the lack of ability to change the default browser and the inability to implement the Nitro Javascript engine, Chrome for iOS faces a significantly uphill battle for consumer mindshare.

Having said that, I’m excited to experiment with the app. iCloud syncing and the newfound omnibar in Safari 6 have currently won my day-to-day usage, but Chrome is certainly a fantastic browser on the Mac. Boasting potent syncing capabilities and a new UI, it’s unquestionably worth a look.

Google Drive for iOS is available from the App Store. Google Chrome for iOS is also available from the App Store.

Chrome OS Takes a Leap In The Right Direction

Chrome OS

David Pierce reports for The Verge:

For email, document editing, and web browsing, the Chrome OS experience is at least as good as any desktop operating system — I’d rather use Gmail on the Chromebook than in Chrome on my Macbook Air. Once Google solves the offline problem —which it’s been promising to do since Chrome OS first debuted — Chrome OS could really be a compelling option for people who want a computer that’s not hard to figure out and doesn’t overwhelm you with options or apps.

[…] Google is closer than ever to convincing the world that we can live online, that we can do away with the old hard drives and local apps and spend our lives on the web. If you’re shopping for a dead-simple computer to use as a secondary machine or to give to someone with only basic computer needs, the latest Chrome OS machines are worth a long look.

Chrome OS has always been the subject of distinct fascination for me. Quick, cloud-centric, and utterly steeped within the tenets of minimalism, Chrome OS offers a very great deal to the seeker of computing simplicity.

Although I doubt I could live within the bounds of Chrome OS for my personal day-to-day tasks, the operating system holds an odd allure for those non-work-intensive moments at home, or when traveling. Of course, for me, this gap has already been filled by the presence of my iPad, but that’s certainly no cause to feign ignorance toward the ever-improving Chrome OS environment.

As I’ve written in the past, I have a romantic entanglement with the concept of a cloud-centric computing environment. With some work, I’ve mostly been able to achieve the realization of this concept with my Mac, but the experience is obviously ill-fitting of both OS X and my working requirements. Perhaps Chrome OS has many faults but, more so many others, I believe it’s indicative of the future of the computing environment for the average user.

Accordingly, I tend to find Chrome OS infinitely more interesting than Android, and I certainly hope any intersection between the two can be stayed. Chrome OS has its own trajectory — one that is of true interest to me — and I wholeheartedly intend to follow its growth over the coming months and years.

Chrome for Android and the Prospect of Chrome for iOS

Announced today, M.G. Siegler has an early overview of the Chrome beta for Android. In short, although limited to Ice Cream Sandwich (and its associatively small install base), it's a thoroughly compelling mobile browser. M.G. writes:

Google gave me an early look at the browser and I’ve been using it for the past few days. There are a number of things that are noticeably better than the browser I consider to gold standard of mobile web browsing: mobile Safari for iOS. And there are a few things it still does worse. But I have no doubt that like the original version of Chrome, Chrome for Android is going to push all browsers forward.

Following the launch, speculation has immediately turned to the potential for an iOS implementation of the nascent mobile browser. Although the performance of Mobile Safari is phenomenal, its design is fairly conservative and Chrome for Android's release has certainly highlighted the swelling desire for a visually differing take on the mobile browser.

Chrome for Android boasts some novel aesthetic choices, and its deep integration with desktop Chrome sounds like a genuine pleasure to deal with. As such, the immediately expressed desire for iOS implementation is, if nothing else, a ringing endorsement of what Google has done here, and serves as a large reminder for why I find it virtually impossible to leave Chrome in favor of any other browser on the desktop.

Although Chrome may never find a true port to iOS thanks to Apple's rules, Mobile Safari and Chrome are ultimately built upon the same WebKit foundation. Accordingly, although Chrome's quick JavaScript engine might not make it, Chrome could well exist with some compromises on iOS. The question is whether such losses would be worth it for Google.

Yes, Chrome drives users toward Google Search but, don't forget, Google is also the default search provider in Mobile Safari already. While that is an arguably tenuous alliance, Google has shown its willingness to pay to sustain its default search status elsewhere.

Even if Chrome does come to iOS, Google has shown a repeated tendency toward underwhelming iOS products, as is thoroughly evidenced by Gmail for iOS. While Microsoft builds responsive and attractive apps, Google has demonstrated a strong propensity for uninspired and half-baked apps that do little for the brand. If Google was forced into a stripped down version of the browser, due to prior conditioning, I can only imagine what horrors such a browser might hold.

Syncing tabs with Chrome and having a novel tab display is certainly an attractive prospect, but I can't say I feel as optimistic about its potential as others. The app store is filled with skinned versions of Safari, and while Google might pull off a particularly attractive version, it will never quite rival the deep integration of Mobile Safari for the average iOS user. Without significant changes to iOS or Chrome, it's likely the value of Chrome for iOS would be largely stifled from the outset.

Of course, I'd love to be proven wrong.

Nevertheless, with regard to the Android version, it's brilliant to see a different and positive take on the mobile browser. Chrome for Android, minor issues aside, seems to be a massive step in the right direction and, as I've said before, competition and innovation are certainly good things.