Its been a busy week for Google, this being the week of their developer conference. Hot on the heels from Apple they made quite a few announcements ranging from a Google sanctioned 7″ tablet to JellyBean, Android 4.1.
For us iOS users there were a few fairly significant releases.
The main one was the release of their Chrome browser for iPhone and iPad. If you use Chrome on the desktop then this could be a good companion for you on iOS, and I can report after having used it for the last few hours that it’s actually not that bad.
On first launch, Chrome will ask you to enter your Google account e-mail address and password, although this step can be skipped. By tying Chrome for iOS to a Google account, users can sync their personalized Chrome settings from their computer or other device.
Like in the desktop version of the browser, the same text box is used to navigate to a website or to search Google. This feature is also coming to Safari in iOS 6 and Mac OS X 10.8.
Tab browsing is supported, where the tabs fan out to index cards which you can re-organise.
Chrome also features a custom keyboard that adds frequently used characters when searching or typing in a URL to the top of the virtual keyboard. A row featuring the colon, period, dash, slash and .com keys sits above the traditional QWERTY interface.
Google’s browser also has a dedicated microphone button for quick voice searches to the far right. Tapping on the microphone instantly puts the iPad into listening mode, and searching by voice works fairly well.
The incognito mode previously found on other versions of Chrome also makes its way to iOS. Incognito allows users to browse the web without saving their history.
I think Chrome is a welcome addition on iOS, but the thing that may hinder its uptake is that you can’t set Chrome to be the default browser on your iOS device, Apple only allows Safari to be the default browser. So opening a URL in a separate application, like Mail, will automatically launch the website in Safar.
As well as Chrome, Google also announced support for Drive, their online filesharing service, similar to Dropbox and Box etc.
The app is free and allows you to copy files up and down from your iOS device.
How long before we see a Google Maps application?