Screenshots show Google Chrome with Blink engine running on iOS
Google is working on building Chrome with its Blink engine on iOS. Screenshots of an early version of the app have been shared by developers of the Chromium open source project.
The White House slammed Google and Apple for their anticompetitive practices related to their respective App Stores. But the real blow to Apple came last year, when the European Union passed a law last year, forcing gatekeepers to allow users to decide where they want to download apps from. It also set a rule that operating systems should let browsers use their own engine.
Now that Apple has no option but to drop the WebKit requirement for third-party browsers, it's only a question of when the change could happen. Some reports say that the requirement could be dropped in iOS 17, which will release later this year.
So it's not surprising to see that Google has been working on Chrome for iOS, based on its Blink engine. It can't be released on the App Store just yet, but the project's making some process. Developers from Google, and an open source consultancy called Igalia, have been working on porting Chrome to iOS. They have shared some screenshots of the early version of the app, running on an iPhone 12. It looks a little basic in terms of the UI (no new tab button, home button, or tab switcher), but the Blink-powered Chrome browser does seem to be functional on iOS.
This is what the app's landscape mode looks like.
9to5Google reports that their staff were able to build a version of Chrome with Blink engine, and ran it on the Xcode simulator. The report also mentions some limitations of the Blink-powered Chrome for iOS. Websites that detect the device as an iPhone, disable some features that are usually not supported on WebKit. The article points out that it may be possible to get the websites to work correctly, by changing the user agent to spoof as if it was being accessed on an Android device. Web developers would need to start adding support for Chrome to fix this problem.
Will it support extensions? That's really important, isn't it? Chrome on Android does not allow users to install add-ons, I think it's fair to say the iOS version won't either. I'm also a bit curious about how all this would affect the Orion browser for iOS. The WebKit based browser supports Firefox and Chrome extensions. While its Mac version is good, the mobile app is not as impressive, extensions on the latter don't have proper compatibility, for example, uBlock Origin can be downloaded, but doesn't really work.
It's time for the real browsers to take the field, and Mozilla hasn't been idle either. In an interview with The Verge, Mitchell Baker, the chairwoman and CEO of Mozilla, said that they were always working on Firefox for iPhone and iPad with the Gecko engine, and that users will see it when it's ready. That was a little vague, but at least we have some confirmation that the project exists. I don't really mind using Safari with AdGuard to protect me from ads on my phone, it's not like I have a choice now, do I? But I won't think twice to ditch it in favor of good-old Firefox if it starts supporting web extensions.
It won't be all sweet news for Apple when iOS drops the WebKit requirement, it's a safe bet that many people would jump ship from its Safari browser over on to Firefox, Chrome, Edge or Brave.Advertisement