Google Open Sources Chrome for iOS


Complexity and restrictions of the iOS platform delayed Chrome for iOS.

Google has released the source code of the Chrome browser for iOS. Google is usually very good at keeping its “open” projects open source, so why the delay in open-sourcing Chrome for iOS?

Chrome comes with many binary blobs, so it is itself a proprietary technology. Chrome’s source code (minus binary blobs) is released under the Chromium project upstream of Chrome.

However, Google was not able to keep the source of Chrome for iOS in the Chromium project because of the additional complexity of the way Apple’s iOS works.

Rohit Rao, Upstream Angler at Google explained: “Due to constraints of the iOS platform, all browsers must be built on top of the WebKit rendering engine. For Chromium, this means supporting both WebKit as well as Blink, Chrome's rendering engine for other platforms. That created some extra complexities which we wanted to avoid placing in the Chromium code base.”

The source code is available on GitHub, and anyone can compile the iOS version of Chromium, just as they can for other versions of Chromium.


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