Google is creating a new version of its Chrome browser, with the Blink rendering engine, for iOS. Unlike the current version for iOS which uses Apple’s WebKit engine to meet the company’s guidelines, this new experimental browser will be distinct. According to a report from The Register, Google is working on a content_shell iOS port, seemingly a variation of its browser for iOS, available for multiple operating systems including Windows, Android, Mac, and Linux.
Google’s official statement on this project is that it is an experimental prototype being developed to understand “performance aspects on iOS.” The app will be used to “analyze graphics and input latencies by providing traces.” The company doesn’t plan to release it on iOS to comply with Apple’s policies.
However, the timing of this project aligns with rumored changes coming to iOS 17 in 2024, including the sideloading of app stores, which suggests that Google may be anticipating a more lenient policy from Apple. This theory has been confirmed by an insider at Google.
Google is porting features from Chrome on Apple Silicon Macs to the content_shell iOS port. Since Apple Silicon uses the same architecture for both iOS and Macs, it may simplify Google’s job, but they will still need to ensure power efficiency.
WebKit is an optimized browser engine for mobile devices, while Chrome on Mac is known for being a resource hog. With Chrome for Android also existing, there’s a chance Google could make the new port more battery-efficient, but it’s uncertain.
It’s yet to be seen if a full version of Chrome on iOS will support browser extensions. The company does not support extensions on Android, despite it being possible as seen with Firefox.