Google Chrome for iPad. Interface Design Mockup and Wishlist.

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Update Jun 2012: Google Chrome for iPad & iPhone has landed in the app store. 2 years after this interface design mockup article:


Original article: Despite the App craziness I strongly believe in the ‘Browser’ as the killer feature for the future of mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Android & Co). Apple did a wonderful job with Mobile-Safari to provide the first complete mobile browsing experience on a mobile device and clearly set the benchmark since then. Mobile-Safari for the iPad is good, but not yet great. There is clearly space for innovation and one of the most important features for the iPad/iPhone OS would be the option to choose between different browser.

It’s obvious that Chrome for iPad is not realistic right now due to Appstore policies and limitations in regard to custom Javascript engines that without Chrome doesn’t makes sense at all, but I really hope that Google, Mozilla and Opera keeps pushing Apple to open the iPad/iPhone OS for alternative browser as I write this.

Google Chrome for iPad

Real Tab Browsing
‘Bringing back the old school Tab’! Tab Browsing on mobile Browser is mostly missing right now. Only Opera did a good job with Opera for iPhone and the iPad really needs a browser with real tab browsing. I know that there are technical limitations, for example the RAM, yet I would prefer four real browser tabs in the browser bar instead of nine Safari windows to choose from the menu.

Interface Concept by Smeidu: Chrome with touch ready Tabs & Buttons

It is clearly important to provide enough space for finger navigation between the tabs and buttons. The height of this ‘Chome for iPad’ bar is only 20px higher than on Safari.

The current bookmark handling in Chrome for Mac/PC isn’t perfect from my point of view, though I really love the Chrome bookmark sync feature between different computers. On Mobile-Safari – the ’save bookmark on HomeScreen’ is a great feature, which opens the door for WebApps to compete with native apps. So for my perfect iPad browser I would love to see the synchronize feature between different devices, the option to save bookmarks within the browser or on the iPad homescreen and a rich experience in browsing through my bookmarks, which is another point of failure of the current Safari for iPad.

Interface Concept by Smeidu: Chrome with redesigned bookmark menu
Google Chrome for iPad with new designed bookmark menu

Another important aspect for the next generation of mobile browsers will be “finger gestures”. If user could handle the basic browser functions with fast finger gestures, the browsing experience would be much smoother. There are some cool new gestures within the iPad like the Photo App gestures. I wish for Apple to define some standard guidelines for advanced gestures by adopting similar mouse gestures which are already known from plugins for firefox & chrome.

iPad + Chrome ‘OS’. Best of both world?
The greatest thing about Google Chrome for iPad would be the combination of the two platforms. On the one hand the shiny iPad Hardware with the well-engineered OS and zillions of well-designed native Apps and on the other hand the Chrome Browser with the best-of ‘chrome OS’ features (WebApp Store, Google Apps, Extensions, …). Wouldn’t that be a promising future, where both companies and platforms could co-exists side by side?

I would love to hear your feedback!


124 Responses

  1. good work. you surely could have gone deeper. and imho you should.

    do more of this ux rethinking – you are talented in this (imho)

  2. smeidu says:

    feedback from Mike Pinkterton (Mozilla / Camino / Chrome for Mac Developer) via Twitter. – “not much to say. UIWebView is pretty anemic and can’t be usurped.”

  3. really like this design approach, but i strongly disagree about your comment about the browser as killer feature for the mobile web. The browser is the old window to the web, application are the future because people want to do specific things and not browse endless sites. Thats why i think applications are the new gatekeepers for specific tasks.

  4. Michael says:

    @Thomas: or like Steve Jobs put it in his OS4 keynote: “When people are looking for a place they want to go out to dinner they’re not searching. They’re going into Yelp. They’re using apps to get the data on the internet rather than a generalized search.” He is saying apps are better at delivering the data from the internet than a browser and apps are therefore the new browsers and eyeball aggregators ( Maybe it’s not true for browsers in general or on other devices (the browser in Android phones will still be strong, cause Google is making money there) but on Apple devices, we’ll definitely see more apps and less browsers I think.

    Nice design job though.

  5. smeidu says:

    @Michael. Don’t you use ‘Mobile Web-Apps’ more often than native iPhone/iPad Apps ;-) ?
    @Thomas. I agree, that applications are the new gatekeepers for specific tasks. But the question is if the mobile Internet brakes in different native client platforms or will it be HTML5 WebApps which runs in the browser. I still believe that 90% of all iPhone Apps (except Games) could be made as perfectly working WebApps.

  6. Harald Eckmüller says:

    @smeidu I think the 90% of uPhone Apps can be made into WebApps sentiment is too much of an oversimplification to be true. Sure, you could emulate the UI and functionality in large parts (although even there are still limits), but you are far away from replicating the smooth user experience you have in richer apps. That said, the web is on it’s way to remedy this, so eventually, one day you may be totally right – just not right now.

    I also agree with @andreas – go further! Tabbed browsing is nice, but not a much better answer then what mobile safari is doing right now. It’s only a more well known and widely used answers.

    @Michael I don’t exactly believe that we will see less and less from Apple on the browser front. Although on small screen devices apps may (right now) be the superior gatekeepers to information, in the long term the browser is just more versatile. Apple strongly supports the development of open standards and even contributes heavily to the open source browser evolution. I believe that the original sentiment at display when Jobs introduced the original iPhone still holds true: Jobs strongly believes in the web and apps as well as the browser ecosystem will exist next to each other. Plus, as an iPad owner I’m confident that the browser offers a lot more on larger screen devices. Here the line between webapps and native apps is much more blurred already, then on phone sized (in screen estate and processing power) devices.

  7. Michael says:

    @smeidu I do. But what me myself and I do can’t be true for the future of the whole fucking mobile web world, right? ;)

    @harald All I say is that I don’t expect Apple to open up their devices to a lot of different browsers, especially not to Google. No iBrowse Store…

  8. smeidu says:

    @Michal unfortunately not to soon. . but remember the time Microsoft was forced to open up Windows to other browsers.

    And isnt’ it funny that the desktop-world is switching from Native Apps to Web Apps and the mobile world is the other way around.

  9. smeidu says:

    See also the feedback from MacRumors and GuiStation Forum

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  12. Luke Jones says:

    Chrome really does something for me that a lot of other browsers just don’t. I really can’t put my finger on what this is, but I know I like it and that’s enough for me. I don’t understand why others don’t use such a light, speedy and usable browser when the alternatives just aren’t as good.

    Not only am I referring to the speed and UI, but also the extended support for HTML5 and CSS 3.

    To develop an iPad (or even iPhone/iPod Touch) version of the application would be absolutely fantastic. I don’t own an iPad (yet), but after using one in the Apple store this Friday and realising that my main use would be as general browsing whilst travelling, on the sofa, garden or even in bed, having a browser that isn’t as limited as Safari would be the defining factor for me.

  13. Joel Drapper says:

    You also need a button at the bottom left, or right that you can hold while clicking on links to open them in the background in new tabs.

  14. Frato says:

    I downloaded iCab mobile for iPad, and it’s great (tabbed browsing, fullscreen mode, modules, …) :

  15. smeidu says:

    @Joel. great idea! there should be a special hand ‘gesture’ for that

  16. Eric says:

    Excellent mockup, smeidu. I agree with your assertions 100%. I would buy an iPad in a heartbeat if it allowed a Chrome browser.

    I agree with Steve Jobs’ assertions about the viability of apps, but I believe he’s being disingenuous when proclaiming the benefits of HTML5 over Flash/AIR, while completely ignoring the development of Safari web apps. Just look at all the work Google is doing with Chrome and Chrome OS, with their upcoming Web app store, and their Native Client push. Apps are the name of the game alright, but only the ubiquity of web apps across multiple OS and browsers is where the consumer really wins.

    This article is an excellent take on how Apple is becoming the next Microsoft by luring users in with “web and internet goodies” but then letting the browser die a slow death (as evidenced by Microsoft’s lack of IE development over a 5 year span) in favor of local apps:

    Again, I would buy an iPad in a heartbeat if it allowed a Chrome browser. Heck, if it had Flash 10.1 integration, I’d buy 2 or 3. And there are many other consumers who feel the same way — and that makes it painfully clear that Steve Jobs wants to own it all: The hardware, the OS, the browsers, the native apps, digital distribution… everything.

    I say no.

  17. Ricardo says:

    iCab already provides “unlimited” tabs (I haven’t tested the limit) on the iPad, so handling memory doesn’t look like an issue.

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  21. yigit says:

    although having another browser in ipad will be awesome because it will bring innovation, calling mobile safari “the first complete mobile browsing experience” is too much for a browser w/o content search and flash.

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  24. smeidu says:

    wow!! Chrome for iPad Projet just landed on Techcrunch! #insane

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  26. @Thomas your definition of browser is imho just wrong
    browser = interface to standardized applications
    including search, arrangement, quick access etc, interconnection

    imho its plain wrong that we even still “open” a browser in nowadays operating systems
    and its plain wrong that we have intermediate layers between hardware abstraction and web applications (see chrome os)

    regarding the current boost of native apps:
    they will die away. native apps are the win32.dll solutions of our time
    domain specific/native apps (iphone apps eg) are lock-in solutions that sell you enddevices to sell you services (appstore, itunes, bookstore etc).
    these solutions will be replaced by open standards. and i even assume that these standards will be based on the web app standards we know now.

    there is absolutely no need for native solutions apart for the vendor to make more money – e.g. extra features should go into extensions of the standards and not be an explaination for the need of native apps, same with 3d, performance, interaction, etc

    @smeidu congrats for TC name dropping
    leave vienna.

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  29. Seems like a pretty good idea, but considering the ever growing enmity between Apple & Google, this would most likely remain as a dream. Sigh…

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  32. [...] le dit Smeidu, tout en nous proposant ces images de Google Chrome au format iPad afin de bien nous [...]

  33. Seems like a pretty good idea, but considering the ever growing enmity between Apple & Google, this would most likely remain as a dream. Sigh…

  34. there would be a great demand for mobile browsers in the coming years that is for sure.~*,

  35. Esger says:

    I’ve been looking for Chrome on iPad as well and I found good replacements: Atomic web and Ilunascape.
    Both do a good job on tabbed browsing and other features that Safari doesn’t offer.

  36. Jaden Flores says:

    mobile browsers would become greatly popular in the next few years`:*

  37. Chrome OS is at par with the current GUI release of Linux,,~

  38. Chrome OS is no better than those Linux Gui stuff that you can online~~’

  39. mobile browsers will become more powerful in the next few years”,*

  40. i love the responsivnessand ergonomics of the Chrome OS, i always use it on my desktop pcs ‘

  41. Rizal Sabli says:

    I wish to get Google Chrome in my iPad now..

  42. press onlin says:

    mobile browsers would become greatly popular in the next few years`:*

  43. Liad says:

    Does the iPad have google chrome yet?

  44. Garcia Family says:

    We’d love to see Chrome on the iPad. Make it so!

  45. i have seen a few mobile browsers and used some of them, they are still a bit slow `-’

  46. Andy Wolber says:

    I recently found a browser, Grazing, which is an iPad app that seems to have elements of some of the features you wanted. It’s worth a look. I’ve been impressed with the latest version of it — enough to move Safari off my iPad home screen and replace it with Grazing.

  47. Marc says:

    I see the IPAD as a good thing BUT the policies of the appstore and the dictatorship of apple puts me off. That why I don’t buy a IPAD, I want to choose what browser/software I will use. I hope that the eu will begin a case agianst this like it has done with microsoft and the IE. Sorry Apple you make great things … but I don’t understand that you don’t make the platforms more open for other browsers and software.

  48. Bruno Sawyer says:

    Like your article wrtingig.

    Your articles are really on of the greatest which i have found in the net on altavista.

    all the best to you

  49. mitch says:

    this looks very cool obviously all of y’all thought all of this through and if this comes out ill be one of the first people to download it

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