Google Bows To Apple: Chrome On iOS Will Use Apple’s Slow UIWebView To Render Web Pages

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Google is launching Chrome for iOS today. Many pundits assumed that Google was holding back Chrome from iOS because it couldn’t use its own rendering engine, however, Google just told us that Chrome will actually use the same rendering engine that Apple makes available to every other third-party developer on iOS.

Apple famously only makes a sandboxed, slower version of its rendering engine available to developers. What’s slowing this engine down is that , for security reasons (at least that’s what Apple says), third-party developers don’t get direct access to Apple’s Nitro JavaScript engine. According to some developers, UIWebView is often up to 3x slower in rendering pages than Safari. You can find a more in-depth discussion of how this works in practice on Quora.

Given these limitations, chances are that Chrome on iOS will be significantly slower than on other platforms – and also slower than Apple’s own Safari browser. Despite all of its convenient features, then, it’s hard to imagine that Chrome on iOS will find too many regular users (and the fact that Apple doesn’t let you switch default browsers doesn’t help here either, of course).

Here is Google’s official statement about this:

“Our goal was to bring the same fast, secure and stable web browsing experience you’ve come to enjoy when using Chrome on your desktop or Android device, while also adapting to platform specific technical specifications.Rendering and the javascript engine are provided by iOS through UIWebView.”