Google takes browser battle to iPhone and iPad

Posted at 06/29/12 3:46 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, California - Google on Thursday took the web browser battle to iPads and iPhones with the release of Chrome software for popular Apple devices built with Safari online surfing programs at heart.

"People have been asking to use Chrome on the iPhone," Chrome product management director Brian Rakowski said while showing off the new browser programs slated to be available in Apple's online App Store.

"We figured why stop there, that we would launch Chrome for the iPad too."

Safari remains the default browser used in Apple gadgets and the "engine" that Chrome or other web-surfing applications has to rely on.

"It is obviously not what powers Chrome in Windows and Android," Chrome senior vice president Sundar Pichai said in an interview at Google's annual developers conference in San Francisco.

"I think we were able to get it working well," he continued. "We had to make trade-offs."

Google announced Chrome for iPads and iPhones as it enhanced software to synch the browser across the array of Internet-linked devices commonly used in modern lifestyles.

People could start browsing with Chrome on a Macbook and then pick up where they left off on a smartphone, tablet, or other computer, Rakowski demonstrated at the company's annual gathering of developers.

"Chrome was built for a better web," Pichai said during a presentation.

"We want to make sure Chrome acts like a layer to work seamlessly across all your devices," he continued. "No other browser is doing this."

Google on Thursday also made its Drive online data storage service available on iPhones, iPods and iPads, joining Microsoft's SkyDrive and others as competition to Apple's iCloud.

Cloud-based "lockers" allow users to store documents, images or other digital files at datacenters and then access them from whichever Internet-linked devices they wish.

"Google Drive is about making it easy to live in the cloud," said Google product manager Clay Bavor.

"At its core, Drive is about enabling sharing and collaboration."

Improving and expanding Chrome appears to be part of a shrewd strategy to keep Google woven into people's Internet activities no matter what gadgets they use, according to Forrester analyst Frank Gilette.

"Google wants to be in as many places as their customers are," Gilette said. "Google is making it so that no matter what device an individual picks up, their stuff and what they were doing (at Google previously) is right there."

Google's strategy includes making Chrome ubiquitous and, where needed, making its own hardware.

On Tuesday, Google unveiled its own Nexus branded tablet computer built by Asus and a made-in-America Q device for streaming movies, music and other content from online shop Google Play to televisions or speakers.

"The goal behind something like Nexus is to serve as a reference design for the ecosystem to shoot at something," Pichai said of Google working with partners on its Nexus brand devices.

Google said it will begin selling its Chromebook computers powered by versions of the browser in consumer electronics stores in the United States and Britain, and that it is readying a fresh line for the year-end holiday season.

"Google is growing and stretching and trying to go in a lot of directions," Gilette said. "It looks really interesting."

The release of Chrome and Drive for gadgets running on Apple's iOS mobile platform came as Google also ramped up efforts to wean companies from Microsoft software used at work and developers from database services sold by Amazon.com.

Pichai said that more than five million businesses have switched from in-house computer programs to using applications hosted by Google as services in the Internet "cloud."

"Many businesses are going Google," Pichai said, firing barbs at Microsoft software in the process.

Google also took the wraps off a Compute Engine that lets developers or website operators tap into the massive power of datacenters in a direct challenge to Amazon Web Services.

"You now have access to the scale and performance of Google's infrastructure and at a great price," Google's Urs Hoelzle said. "It is up to you to figure how to use that."

© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse