Best Free iPad App of the Week: Chrome

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One of the best things about using an iPad is the great apps that we can run on it. There are excellent apps for just about any purpose you can think of. Better still, there are lots of great free apps for the iPad. Our Best Free iPad App of the Week posts celebrate these apps.

This week’s pick is Chrome, Google’s excellent web browser which has now come to the iPad and iOS. Chrome has been my browser of choice on my MacBook Pro for ages now. I find it much, much faster than Safari and just a real pleasure to use. It’s worth noting right off the bat that Chrome on the iPad cannot match the speed advantage of the desktop version. The reasons for this are not the fault of the app or of Google, its publisher – they’re due to Apple policies, as outlined recently at ars technica:

Because of Apple’s own App Store restrictions, Google is limited to building Chrome for iOS on (the iOS supplied version of) WebKit. Safari is also built on WebKit, and has a bonus advantage of being able to use its Nitro JavaScript engine, which is not available to outside apps. (Nitro is limited entirely to Mobile Safari or bookmarked Web apps saved as home screen icons as of iOS 5.) As such, Chrome is at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to overall speed, though depending on the user, this speed difference may or may not be noticeable.

Chrome for iPad

Despite the limitations placed on Chrome due to Apple policies, which also include the fact that you cannot choose it as your default browser, the app still has plenty of great features going for it. Here are a few of the best ones:

— Unlimited Tabs: I’ve had over 20 tabs open at once in Chrome and the app has still performed well.

— Swipe through tabs: It’s easy to move quickly through your tabs by just swiping left to right (or vice versa) – and you can tap, hold, and drag to move tabs around.

— The Omnibox: One of the star features of Chrome on the desktop – you can type a web address or a search term into the all-purpose omnibox. Whenever I have to use Safari I miss this big time.

— Voice dictation right in the Omnibox. This makes it even easier to use your voice for search or entering web addresses.

— Privacy Features: With a single tap at the top right of the Chrome screen you can open an Incognito tab. When using these tabs the pages you view won’t appear in your browser or search history, and they won’t leave cookies behind. You can also clear browsing history, cache, and cookies right from within the app – rather than having to do this in the Settings app.

Chrome browser for iPad

— Chrome has a Save Passwords feature that can be toggled on and off in its settings.

— Best of all, if you’re a Chrome user on the desktop, you can sync open tabs, bookmarks, passwords and more from your PC to your iPad.

Chrome browser for iPad 

To see it in action on the iPad check out my recent screencast demo of Chrome on iPad on YouTube.

Here’s an App Store link for Chrome.

If you’re after more great free iPad apps, be sure to check out our previous choices for Best Free iPad of the Week. We’ve been doing these for over a year now.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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4 thoughts on “Best Free iPad App of the Week: Chrome”

  1. How to set up the chrome sync for my iPad. I think I saw that option once but right now other devices is showing blank? Please help

    1. Make sure you are signed in on both the iPad and Chrome on the desktop. Look under the Chrome menu on the desktop to confirm you’re signed in.

      If you opened the iPad app before being signed in on the desktop then you may need to manually quit the app on the iPad and reopen it in order for it to see your desktop open tabs etc.

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