App of the Week: Google Chrome Finally Available for iPhone

App: Google Chrome Platform: iPhone, iPad Website: App Store Cost: Free

With all the upgrades to iOS over the years, one thing that has lagged has been browser technology. The built-in Safari app for iPhone is fine, but has a number of limitations that make it a less than desirable option for people who need to surf the Web from their phones. And, frankly, if you use the phone with regularity for anything, the browser becomes a necessity at some point.

Back in March, I reviewed the feature-rich iCab and sung its praises. The $1.99 browser is absolutely loaded with options -- probably more than anyone including me will ever need. It also provided tabbed browsing, something Safari still lacks. But, with the entrance of Chrome onto the app market, there may be a new leader in the clubhouse.

Fully Loaded

One thing that impresses right off the bat with Chrome is its integration with the desktop version. If you are a Chrome user (if not, why exactly?), the iPhone version will connect with the desktop version -- via a Google login (Gmail works, for example) -- and keep track of your bookmarks and recently visited pages. Importing bookmarks is one of the more significant headaches when dealing with both mobile and desktop browsers. Syncing them through Chrome is a HUGE benefit. Just keep in mind that you'll need to change the settings on your desktop browser to share "everything" if it is not set that way already.

Chrome is also speedy, though not quite as speedy as Safari due to the fact that one of Apple's pieces of code that facilitates the faster speeds on Safari is not available to non-native apps. Still, numerous geeks have speed-tested Chrome and found it to be nearly comparable to Safari despite the non-native limitations.

All the things you assume come with Chrome do -- search through the main bar with no need to click a search icon or use a different search box, for example, and tabbed browsing. Plus, there is a private browsing option called "incognito" which prevents pages from being stored in your browser history.

Still Growing

There is no indication that popular extensions like AdBlocker will be available for Chrome in iOS right away, but no doubt that will change. As more people begin to use Chrome on the iPhone, no doubt developers will start extending popular add-ons to that platform. Some of them like Flash blocking technology won't be necessary, but others could come in very handy.

The Verdict

Since Chrome has only been available in iOS for a few weeks now, it's pretty clear it has a ways to go, but for a company like Google that has done a relatively poor job of addressing mobile concerns over the years, Chrome is a winner right out of the box.

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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke