Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chrome for iPads and iPhones are now much faster and crash a lot less

Google is finally giving Chrome for iOS the speed and reliability improvements that users have wanted for a long, long time. Today the company is overhauling its mobile browser for iPhone and iPad with a new rendering engine: WKWebView. That's the same engine that powers Apple's own Safari browser on iOS, and while it might sound like boring tech jargon, what you end up with is perhaps the most important update that Chrome for iOS has ever received. It won't look any different from the Chrome you've used before, but it'll feel way quicker and work better. You can download it right here.

Google's browser now crashes 70 percent less, the company's own tests show. 70 percent! And Chrome now handles JavaScript just as well — and just as fast — as Safari. That's been a long time coming, to say the least; with iOS 8, Apple granted third-party apps (and browsers) the same JavaScript powers as Safari, but Google has been slow to get on board. That's all changed now.

Google has tested Chrome directly against Safari in iOS with several benchmark tools (Octane, JetStream, and Kraken), finding that it's right on par with Apple's browser. One downside is that these pretty major speed and reliability improvements apply only to iPhones and iPads running iOS 9; previous versions of the OS have limitations that, according to the Chromium team, prevent WKWebView from being "viable" for rendering Chrome. It's not like prior versions of Chrome were awful; they just always felt a bit slower and buggier than Safari. But now, Chrome should be better than ever.

And that alone is likely to reignite calls for Apple to let customers choose their default web browser, default email app, and so on. If they're both just as fast and just as safe and running the same rendering engine, why not? The timing here couldn't be much better; Google's better, faster Chrome arrives on the very same day that Safari got caught with a rare but nasty bug that resulted in the browser crashing for many users.

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