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Google updates Chrome for iOS with improved speed, stability

Google said Chrome 48 for iOS crashes 70 percent less than previous versions and significantly speeds up JavaScript execution.

Google on Wednesday launched a new version of Chrome for iOS that its says is both faster and more stable than any iteration before it.

In a blog post, Google said Chrome 48 for iOS crashes 70 percent less than previous versions and significantly speeds up JavaScript execution, making for improved responsiveness and web compatibility.

The performance and speed increase is due in large part to Google's switch from the iOS UIWebView rendering engine to the WKWebView engine introduced two years ago in iOS 8.

By using WKWebView's out-of-process rendering, Google says that a single crashed web view will no longer bring down all of Chrome, thereby reducing the overall crash rate. WKWebView also improves Chrome's HTML5test score (from 391 up to 409) and makes scrolling smoother and more responsive.

The switch to out-of-process rendering on Chrome for iOS has been a long time coming. It was one of Chrome's earliest innovations, but Google struggled for years to find a way around the in-process rendering used in UIWebView.

Even after the advent of iOS 8, migrating to the new WKWebView framework "brought significant challenges," according to Google. For instance, early versions of WKWebView had no cookie management API, which meant there was no obvious way to clear or manage cookies. So essentially Google decided to wait it out rather than struggle with WKWebView's early technical limitations.

Google also launched its Data Saver extension for Chrome. The data compression feature is most useful for those who frequently access public wifi. The extension reduces a computer's data needs, making spotty wifi signals easier to bare.

The release of Chrome 48 for iOS comes just a week after Google launched Chrome 48 for Windows, Mac, and Linux.