Google today announced the availability of its Chrome browser for iOS.
Well, sort of.
Chrome for iOS isn't really Chrome, the browser that people fall in love with because it's so damn fast. Instead, it's a native iOS app that acts as a shell over the Mobile Safari engine.
Sound familiar? This is nearly identical to the set of restrictions that developers of Metro apps face, and about which both Mozilla and Google have complained bitterly. In a formal statement last May, Mozilla General Counsel Harvey Anderson accused Microsoft of “platform lock-in.” In a separate statement, Google said it had "concerns" over Windows 8 "restricting user choice and innovation.”
I haven't heard similar complaints about Apple.
This issue isn't a new development. It first raised its head well over a year ago.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball acknowledged the issue at the time:
And he explains the reason. In a word, security:
So why is Google bothering? Because Chrome is a delivery vehicle for Google services, and a way to get around pesky browser makers who might set privacy defaults that make it difficult for Google to tie all of your information together.
Those other browsers can throw a privacy-related monkey wrench into grand data-collection schemes. Earlier this year, for example, Google was caught deliberately circumventing privacy settings in Safari, by implementing a technical workaround that tricks the browser into accepting tracking cookies from a third-party site.
And Google's representative to the W3C has argued that it has "the option to reject" Do Not Track (DNT) requests coming from browsers that have the DNT setting on by default—specifically, Internet Explorer 10.
Using your own browser—even one that's relatively slow—is preferable.
Google's actually catching a break with Microsoft's decision to make an exception to its sandboxing rules for third-party browsers running on Windows 8. That option isn't available for Windows RT. I suspect we'll see a slow Chrome for Metro, built under the same restrictions as Chrome for iOS, when Windows RT ships this fall.
- Game on- Google releases Metro-style Windows 8 browser
- Mozilla and Google accuse Microsoft of unfair browser competition
- Mozilla shows off a Metro style Firefox prototype for Windows 8
- Mozilla begins development of Firefox for Metro
- CNET: Google Chrome and Drive come to Apple iOS devices