The iOS platform is something of a strange playground for app developers who have to be very careful not to tread on the toes of Apple when coming up with their own software. If Apple doesn’t like an app for any reason, it can be blocked so that no one can download it, and replicating features that are already available in iOS is a quick and easy way to ensure that your app does not last very long. Problems like this mean that replacements for iOS’s built in apps are not exactly plentiful.

So it is perhaps a little surprising to find that Google – who many would describe as Apple’s arch rival – have been able to publish a version of their web browser for iPad and iPhone users. The big feature to be found in the app is synchronization. Tab syncing means that if you are using Chrome on your desktop computer or another device, the tabs you have open will be synchronized so that you can also access them from your iOS device. It’s a small feature when you think about it, but at the same time it can change the way you use your browser.

In addition to this, you can also take advantage of Chrome’s Incognito mode which keeps your browsing history private. Tabbed browsing is something that is taken for granted on desktop computers, and it is something that is also available in Chrome. Easy swiping gestures can be used to flick between open tabs, making it easy to browse multiple sites at the same time.

All of this is great news but, thanks to the way Apple works, there are a couple of issues. Firstly, it is not possible to change the default web browser is iOS, so while you can take advantage of the great new features that are available in Chrome, you can’t make it load automatically when you click a link in an email. Secondly, the browser is forced to use the same rendering engine as Safari, which means that Google is not able to do everything it might want to with its browser. That said, this is still a superb app and whether you have been looking for a Safari alternative or not, you should check it out for yourself.

Chrome 44 for iOS brings these changes:

- Swipe to navigate: swipe right or left to navigate backward or forward
- Stability improvements and bug fixes

Verdict

A great alternative browser for iOS – it’s great to see the competition opening up and for users to be able to benefit from the features they’re used to in desktop browsers.