Google is Working on Blink-Powered Browser for iOS

Google has started working on a new web browser for iOS that uses the company’s Blink rendering engine instead of Apple’s WebKit. The project is currently at an experimental stage, and Google told The Register that it won’t become available to iOS users.

“This is an experimental prototype that we are developing as part of an open source project with the goal to understand certain aspects of performance on iOS,” a Google spokesperson told The Register. “It will not be available to users and we’ll continue to abide by Apple’s policies.”

As you may know, Apple’s App Store rules make it mandatory for third-party iOS web browsers to use Apple’s WebKit rendering engine. The current version of Chrome for iOS has to use WebKit while the desktop version uses Blink, a browser engine that’s being developed within the Chromium open-source project. It’s pretty much the same story for Microsoft’s Edge browser.

The WebKit restriction for third-party browsers on iOS has been a source of criticism from web developers for many years now. However, Apple’s restrictive App Store policies could eventually change with increasing pressure from regulators around the world. The EU’s Digital Markets Act, which is set to go into effect in the coming months, will force “gatekeepers” like Apple to allow users to install third-party app stores on their platforms.

According to a report from Bloomberg from December, Apple is indeed preparing to allow third-party App Stores on iOS, and the change could be implemented with an update to iOS 17 next year. The report also said that Apple was also considering dropping the requirement for third-party web browsers on the App Store to use WebKit.

Even though Google officially says that its experimental Blink-based iOS web browser won’t be released publicly, the company is possibly anticipating major iOS changes in the near future. If Apple has indeed no choice but to allow third-party app stores on iOS, Google won’t have to start from scratch if it wants to release a new version of Chrome for iOS that replaces WebKit with its Blink rendering engine.

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