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Google looks to spark iOS browser war with OpenInChrome function

post #1 of 69
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Google looks to be attempting to grow its mini-ecosystem on Apple's iOS platform, as the search giant is now enticing developers to have their apps open web links in its Chrome browser.

chromed out


Google on Tuesday publicized a new API feature, OpenInChromeController, in a post (via The Inquirer) on The Chromium Blog. OpenInChromeController allows developers to have links within their apps open in Google's Chrome iOS browser instead of in the default Safari browser. OpenInChromeController also makes the Back button in Chrome point toward the originating app, so that users can return to the app in one tap.

The feature also allows for checking whether Chrome is installed on a device, and developers can specify whether a link should open in a new tab or not.

Google provided additional documentation on the OpenInChromeController API on its developers site. Developers can download the API from that site in order to integrate it into their apps, if they wish.

Taken in combination with Google's recent Chrome efforts on iOS, the search giant's push to integrate and expand its own micro-ecosystem on Apple's mobile platform comes into stark relief. Monday saw the release of an updated Gmail app that doesn't route web links, location data, and YouTube links through Apple's default Safari browser. Instead, the app now opens such links directly within Google's relevant apps: Chrome Google Maps, and YouTube.

Google's Chrome browser debuted to some degree of popularity, but the inability to set it as a default browsing app on iOS has relegated the browser to a very distant second place to Apple's Safari among iOS browsers.

Tying Chrome and other Google services together, though, could be a way for the search giant to grow browser share and enrich its suite of apps on Apple's platform. Google has, for the past few months, been building in the capability for its apps to interact with each other, tweaking its Google+ app to open links in Chrome in addition to its more recent efforts.

Opening up the possibility for developers to specify a default browser other than Apple's Safari, though, could mark the beginning of a new generation of browser wars similar to the struggles seen between Microsoft's Internet Explorer and other competitors in the desktop computing era.
post #2 of 69
Good. We've had browser choice on Mac OS X all along, why can't we have it on iOS? What is Apple afraid of? (Yes, jailbreakers can easily set Chrome to be the default browser, but not everyone jailbreaks.)
post #3 of 69
They are afraid that Google will steal data unknowingly like they were secretly doing with Safari until caught and charged a huge fine. They are not to be trusted.
post #4 of 69
i have chrome installed, but i don't want it to be my default browser... so this is rather annoying.
post #5 of 69

Considering that Google is looking to branch WebKit into their own project, at which point I don't think future versions of Chrome will be allowed on the store (unless, of course, they don't integrate the new code they swear they have and need said branching to implement)... does it really matter? Seems like they're only setting up developers - and Chrome users - for disappointment when in a few months to a year, everything gets shunted back to Safari and devs need to redo their apps.

post #6 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by OllieWallieWhiskers View Post

i have chrome installed, but i don't want it to be my default browser... so this is rather annoying.

If I read right it doesn't change your default browser, it would still be Safari. Developers would just have a choice of making a call to Chrome within their app, if Chrome is already installed. I think I have that right.

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post #7 of 69
How is Google able to pass on this sort of data between apps? If there is such a facility, can it be used by smaller developers?

Somehow this seems to be like pushing the envelope of what is "allowed" by Apple in iOS. If some smaller developer attempted something like this, Apple would shut him down in a heartbeat.

I don't think we have heard the last of this yet.
post #8 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

If I read right it doesn't change your default browser, it would still be Safari. Developers would just have a choice of making a call to Chrome within their app, if Chrome is already installed. I think I have that right.

i think your right....but that code is useless if you don't have Chrome installed? But it would be nice to have the ability to choose what browser you want have as default.

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post #9 of 69
How can anyone sensibly comment on this development when the article says absolutely *nothing* about how this trick is accomplished?

The entire content of this article boils down to ... "There is a thing called an 'open in chrome controller' that exists now."

It is an app? It is an API? It is made entirely of Cheese? It's a demo? It's a beta? It's a planned product? It's an existing (working) product?
post #10 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

If I read right it doesn't change your default browser, it would still be Safari. Developers would just have a choice of making a call to Chrome within their app, if Chrome is already installed. I think I have that right.

And what if I have Chrome installed but only use it for certain pages that don't display right in Safari? If the article is correct, it looks for Chrome and then directs you to it if it is installed. And I think I have the right to NOT have random apps go "Oh, you have Chrome installed? Then screw your normal surfing habits, I'm taking you to Chrome instead of Safari".

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

How can anyone sensibly comment on this development when the article says absolutely *nothing* about how this trick is accomplished?

The entire content of this article boils down to ... "There is a thing called an 'open in chrome controller' that exists now."

It is an app? It is an API? It is made entirely of Cheese? It's a demo? It's a beta? It's a planned product? It's an existing (working) product?

If you actually read the article instead of being sarcastic, it's something developers can download and add to their apps that modifies the behavior of links within their apps. It's up for download now, meaning it could theoretically be in the wild as of... what's the average pass through from submission to App Store approval these days?

post #11 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

... The feature also allows for checking whether Chrome is installed on a device...

 

This sounds like a security hole in the sandboxing that Apple needs to plug in the next iOS update. Apps ought not be able to check what other apps are installed.

post #12 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by skottichan View Post

And what if I have Chrome installed but only use it for certain pages that don't display right in Safari? If the article is correct, it looks for Chrome and then directs you to it if it is installed. And I think I have the right to NOT have random apps go "Oh, you have Chrome installed? Then screw your normal surfing habits, I'm taking you to Chrome instead of Safari".

 

If you actually read the article instead of being sarcastic, it's something developers can download and add to their apps that modifies the behavior of links within their apps. It's up for download now, meaning it could theoretically be in the wild as of... what's the average pass through from submission to App Store approval these days?

you are right...i re-read the article. So an app developer could put code in their app to re-direct a link to use chrome to open a link instead of Safari?

But that would only happen if they had Chrome installed. I wonder if Apple will let this get through the app approval/certification process?

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post #13 of 69
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Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

Good. We've had browser choice on Mac OS X all along, why can't we have it on iOS? What is Apple afraid of? (Yes, jailbreakers can easily set Chrome to be the default browser, but not everyone jailbreaks.)

You've had a browser choice since day one of the App Store. What you haven't had is browser engine choice. This is a bit tricky whilst still maintaining security of their highly popular, highly ubiquitous iOS platform but I think Apple will eventually allow it.

Do apps getting access to the WebKit engine yet have the same low-level access that allows for much faster JS that Apple's native iOS apps have?

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post #14 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by skottichan View Post

And what if I have Chrome installed but only use it for certain pages that don't display right in Safari? If the article is correct, it looks for Chrome and then directs you to it if it is installed. And I think I have the right to NOT have random apps go "Oh, you have Chrome installed? Then screw your normal surfing habits, I'm taking you to Chrome instead of Safari".

 

Right, this has nothing to do with Google promoting user choice. This is all about Google compromising your privacy on iOS in any way they can, and asking naive and stupid app developers to help them do it. All the more reason not to install any Google apps (i.e., spyware) on any of your systems.

post #15 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by geekdad View Post

you are right...i re-read the article. So an app developer could put code in their app to re-direct a link to use chrome to open a link instead of Safari?
But that would only happen if they had Chrome installed. I wonder if Apple will let this get through the app approval/certification process?

i think so because this has been a part of their OS for years.

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post #16 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

If I read right it doesn't change your default browser, it would still be Safari. Developers would just have a choice of making a call to Chrome within their app, if Chrome is already installed. I think I have that right.

 
The rights you have are determined by Apple on their platform not Google or any other competitor who is trying to leverage the IOS platform for their own gain. If I down load an app that has a link in it I don't want it opening into Chrome because I don't want an unguarded Google on my phone.  If I did I would buy an Android phone.  If the link is directed to open in Chrome and I don't have it then it would of course demand that I download it to continue which I would also find annoying and an interruption to my experience.  GOOGLE NEEDS TO GO WAY!!!!!!!!
post #17 of 69

Google is not promoting user choice if the third party app automatically opens Chrome. I also have Chrome on my iPhone, but I never use it. I downloaded it to be curious. Now all the sudden third party apps are going to open up things in Chrome. No thanks.

post #18 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

How can anyone sensibly comment on this development when the article says absolutely *nothing* about how this trick is accomplished?

The entire content of this article boils down to ... "There is a thing called an 'open in chrome controller' that exists now."

It is an app? It is an API? It is made entirely of Cheese? It's a demo? It's a beta? It's a planned product? It's an existing (working) product?

 

Essentially they have created an new protocol to replace http:// and https://

 

if([scheme isEqualToString:@"http"]){
  chromeScheme =@"googlechrome";
}elseif([scheme isEqualToString:@"https"]){
  chromeScheme =@"googlechromes";
}

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post #19 of 69

I'm not against browser choice by any stretch (cough, AdBlock, cough, cough), but I'd be very unlikely to ever install Chrome.  Google collects enough information as it is. 

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post #20 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


You've had a browser choice since day one of the App Store. What you haven't had is browser engine choice. This is a bit tricky whilst still maintaining security of their highly popular, highly ubiquitous iOS platform but I think Apple will eventually allow it.

Do apps getting access to the WebKit engine yet have the same low-level access that allows for much faster JS that Apple's native iOS apps have?

Very nice distinction! I missed that....

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post #21 of 69
Apple has just announced that turning on 'Private Browsing' in iOS 7 will cause your iPhone to check to see if any Google apps are installed and, if it finds any, it then deletes them.

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post #22 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

Apple has just announced that turning on 'Private Browsing' in iOS 7 will cause your iPhone to check to see if any Google apps are installed and, if it finds any, it then deletes them.

1wink.gif

Perhaps a little over the top but this could work, too.

Edited by SolipsismX - 5/8/13 at 10:50am

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post #23 of 69

I am waiting when Apple tells : "This is our platform !"

 

When they will kill gmail for iOS- forcing users to use default app that janks links into safari.

When they will make an program that "lies" to google servers, protecting personal info.

When they will make any google apps open links in safari

- click on link in you tube - you are in safari

- click on link in google maps - you are in safari

- and the best one, click on link in Chrome - you are in safari

When they will not allow any google app that works with other google apps.

When they will destroy google advertizing business on iOS (safari will not show google ads, apps will not be able to use google ads or ads feeded with personal info that google stealed)

 

google stealed years of Apple's research, development, they are trying to destroy iPhone and iPad and Apple ? They do nothing, if they wanted they could destroy google few times now... i sometimes hate how Apple is trying so much to get well with others.

post #24 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Google is not promoting user choice if the third party app automatically opens Chrome. I also have Chrome on my iPhone, but I never use it. I downloaded it to be curious. Now all the sudden third party apps are going to open up things in Chrome. No thanks.

Me too. I downloaded Chrome and Google Search just out of curiosity. Never use them at all.
post #25 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by skottichan View Post

And what if I have Chrome installed but only use it for certain pages that don't display right in Safari? If the article is correct, it looks for Chrome and then directs you to it if it is installed. And I think I have the right to NOT have random apps go "Oh, you have Chrome installed? Then screw your normal surfing habits, I'm taking you to Chrome instead of Safari".

If you actually read the article instead of being sarcastic, it's something developers can download and add to their apps that modifies the behavior of links within their apps. It's up for download now, meaning it could theoretically be in the wild as of... what's the average pass through from submission to App Store approval these days?

It wouldn't make Chrome as default for all apps, only the ones you choose and it would have to be a option put in by the dev.
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post #26 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crosslad View Post

Me too. I downloaded Chrome and Google Search just out of curiosity. Never use them at all.

I typically grab other browsers as back up options, but I can't say i've had an issue with Safari on Mac OS X or iOS not working as expected for years now.

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post #27 of 69
Just seems like reasonable functionality to me, and if Apple doesn't allow changing the default browser (which for security and privacy may have value but I hope Apple adds the option) then developers need workarounds. So does Google. They've offered a decent solution--I approve.
post #28 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Google is not promoting user choice if the third party app automatically opens Chrome. I also have Chrome on my iPhone, but I never use it. I downloaded it to be curious. Now all the sudden third party apps are going to open up things in Chrome. No thanks.

It wouldn't be 'all of a sudden', you'd have to set it up that way. Try reading the article guys.
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post #29 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

 

This sounds like a security hole in the sandboxing that Apple needs to plug in the next iOS update. Apps ought not be able to check what other apps are installed.

 

Every apps on iOS can register URL schemes. If an app open an URL, iOS will take the scheme and open the app that can handle it. What Google does is register 3 schemes for Chrome and developers can use them to open a web page (http, https) using Chrome instead of Safari. iOS also provides a function to check if a scheme can be handled by any of installed apps.

 

This of course requires support from the app developers. If they want to open a web page using the default browser (which is Safari, at least for now), they can keep using http or https. If they want to open the page using Chrome, they need to change the URL to use googlechrome or googlechromes (or googlechrome-x-callback) scheme first.

 

Everything is provided by iOS and documented here http://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#documentation/iphone/conceptual/iphoneosprogrammingguide/AdvancedAppTricks/AdvancedAppTricks.html

 

 

 

There's something interesting with http/https handler, though. Most of the time, opening http/https link will open Safari. One of the exceptions is if the links are AppStore links, the AppStore app will be opened. The interesting part is if the link is a YouTube link, it will open Google's YouTube app (if it's installed) and not other apps that can also view YouTube.

post #30 of 69
I personally see it as sign that Google is conceding the war on Mobile Internet access has been won by Apple. Up to this point they were hoping their own Android platform would generate far more mobile internet access than iOS. However, as all the data shows even thought Android is loaded and running on more phones than iOS most Android users are cheap and clueless to using a smart phone. Plus with Apple yanking their built in access to user usage they have no choose.
post #31 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

I personally see it as sign that Google is conceding the war on Mobile Internet access has been won by Apple. Up to this point they were hoping their own Android platform would generate far more mobile internet access than iOS. However, as all the data shows even thought Android is loaded and running on more phones than iOS most Android users are cheap and clueless to using a smart phone. Plus with Apple yanking their built in access to user usage they have no choose.

I wouldn't think Google particularly cares where the revenue initiates as long as they aren't beholden to anyone in particular or otherwise locked out of it. The whole Android effort from Google was originally intended to ensure Microsoft wouldn't hold all the keys to the mobile platform and it's advertising revenue like they tried to do on the desktop. Apple's iPhone didn't even exist then so Android certainly wasn't targeting Apple.


Edited by Gatorguy - 5/8/13 at 11:33am
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post #32 of 69
You have to hand it to them -- Google are devious little f***ers! An impressive strategy to infiltrate and take over an existing 'host' ecosystem (iOS), and thereby benefit from its success. Reminds me of the way a successful virus operates...
post #33 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

I wouldn't think Google particularly cares where the revenue initiates as long as they aren't beholden to anyone in particular or otherwise locked out of it. The whole Android effort from Google was originally intended to ensure Microsoft wouldn't hold all the keys to the mobile platform and it's advertising revenue like they tried to do on the desktop. Apple's iPhone didn't even exist then so Android certainly wasn't targeting Apple.

 

Revisionist BS. Google specifically and publicly stated that Android was targeted at Apple and the iPhone. These statements were made by Vic Gundotra and he likened Apple to Big Brother at the time.

 

As we know, Google is Big Brother. You and Vic are shameless hypocrites and apparently incapable of honesty.

post #34 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by iang1234 View Post

Every apps on iOS can register URL schemes. If an app open an URL, iOS will take the scheme and open the app that can handle it. What Google does is register 3 schemes for Chrome and developers can use them to open a web page (http, https) using Chrome instead of Safari. iOS also provides a function to check if a scheme can be handled by any of installed apps. ...

 

I understand that this takes advantage of an existing feature, but it can potentially be used to identify what apps that support known URL schemes are installed on a user's device. This is a potential security and privacy risk. And, as we see in this instance, can be used to subvert user intentions.

post #35 of 69

Why is this a problem for Apple?

Why is this a problem for Apple? if anything this gives Google service users more incentive to buy iOS devices.

post #36 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


chromed out


 OpenInChromeController also makes the Back button in Chrome point toward the originating app, so that users can return to the app in one tap.

 

In case nobody noticed, this is the primary thing of importance to the user.

 

Just as with Android's Back button, it will make jumping out to a browser a much more pleasurable experience than it currently is in iOS.  

 

Right now, once you're done using the iOS-app-launched browser, you have to remember / find / relaunch the app that sent you to the web in the first place.

post #37 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

 

In case nobody noticed, this is the primary thing of importance to the user.

 

Just as with Android's Back button, it will make jumping out to a browser a much more pleasurable experience than it currently is in iOS.  

 

Right now, once you're done using the iOS-app-launched browser, you have to remember / find / relaunch the app that sent you to the web in the first place.

Excellent point sir. I know I had overlooked that beneficial little feature. Good catch.

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post #38 of 69

forgetaboutit, Google! Why should I open my door to thieves? Your business model is to steal and sell my data. No thanks.

post #39 of 69
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Originally Posted by jguther View Post

forgetaboutit, Google! Why should I open my door to thieves? Your business model is to steal and sell my data. No thanks.

 

Drama is unnecessary.  Knowledge is power.

 

As with any third party browser on iOS, it uses the same web browser engine as Safari.  Chrome on iOS is just a shell which basically adds the ability to sync tabs and bookmarks between devices.

 

The main difference in this use-case is that there will be a button that takes you back to the original calling app.

post #40 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

 

I understand that this takes advantage of an existing feature, but it can potentially be used to identify what apps that support known URL schemes are installed on a user's device. This is a potential security and privacy risk. And, as we see in this instance, can be used to subvert user intentions.

 

You do realize that web pages can check to see whether an app is installed already on an iOS device? So if Apple feels that ability is okay for a web page, what bullshit security risk are you going to come up with that would force Apple to remove the feature? I'm guessing you really don't have one but you hate the idea that this feature gives some advantage to Google thus you want it taken it away. It would honestly be helpful if your arguments were based on something other than irrational hatred of a company.

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