Google has introduced a new experimental feature for Chrome that aims to bypass Apple’s restrictions on the WebKit engine on iOS to use its own Blink engine.
As we all know, Apple requires all web browsers on iOS to be based on the same WebKit engine as Apple’s Safari browser, whether it’s Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or other third-party browsers.
Advocates of the open web have long argued that Apple’s restrictions stifle competition between web browsers on the iPhone and iPad, and stifle potential innovation.
Google’s development team announced last week on Chromium Bug Tracker that they have started working on porting Chrome / Chromium’s full Blink engine to iOS, a project that may change the status quo for iOS browsers and could at least set the stage for changes to iOS sometime in the future.
Of course, the Chromium team is also very aware that this is not a “releasable product” at this point. After all, any browser that doesn’t use WebKit violates App Store policy. So their current plan is to port a scaled-down version of the “content_shell” app rather than anything resembling a full Chrome browser.
The Chromium team will use this “basic browser” to test Blink and other necessary browser components on iOS, according to the report.
In a statement to The Register, a Google spokesperson said.
"This is an experimental prototype that we are developing as part of an open source project to understand certain aspects of performance on iOS. It is not currently available to users and we will continue to comply with Apple's policies."
The Chromium team plans to provide guidance for interested developers to build their own Blink engine and content_shell to try out on iPhone and iPad development machines.
It’s worth noting that Google’s Chromium team is already fully committed to porting Blink to iOS, and has introduced dozens of relevant code changes in the past week. Thinking optimistically, we could see this Chrome browser, as well as apps like Microsoft Edge and Opera, running on iOS for the first time in the next few weeks.