Google working on iPhone Chrome browser that ditches Apple’s WebKit

Chrome browser on iPhone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox could soon break free of the restrictions put upon them by Apple's App Store, which forces the browsers to use the Safari WebKit rendering engine instead of those found in their other versions. 

According to The Register Mozilla and Google are both preparing apps for future iOS devices that use the Blink and Gecko engines found in their standard browsers instead of WebKit. This means that instead of essentially acting as a re-skinned version of Safari, more native versions of Firefox and Chrome could be coming to iOS. 

Moving away from WebKit: Why now? 

If there were ever a time for Google and Mozilla to push the limits of Apple’s resolve, now would be a good one. After regulatory pressure for Apple to allow other app stores on iOS, and steps to allow third-party payments on its devices, there is a perceived loosening of restrictions at Cupertino. 

MacOS already supports fully-featured third-party browsers but If Apple were to allow these browsers onto iOS, they would likely need to respond with a re-vamped Safari or else lose users. This competition and an end to the "walled garden" would almost certainly be good for users, but this is not a new struggle. Ted Mielczarek, a former engineer at Mozilla claimed via Twitter that he worked on getting the Gecko engine version of Firefox onto iOS as early as 2010 and again in 2015. 

In a statement to The Register, Mozilla explained its reasoning for working on the project: "We abide by Apple's iOS app store policies, and are simply doing some exploratory work to understand the technical challenges for Gecko-based browsers on iOS if those policies were to change. We hope the day will come when people can freely decide to use the browser of their choice, including the opportunity to select the engine that underpins it."

The likes of Google and Mozilla are also facing pressure to improve. The potential implications of AI chatbots such as ChatGPT, and the integration of AI into Bing and Edge could change search engines forever. Google is also working on its own Bard AI which could make its way to its Blink-powered browser. 

Andy Sansom
Trainee Writer

Andy is Tom’s Guide’s Trainee Writer, which means that he currently writes about pretty much everything we cover. He has previously worked in copywriting and content writing both freelance and for a leading business magazine. His interests include gaming, music and sports- particularly Formula One, football and badminton. Andy’s degree is in Creative Writing and he enjoys writing his own screenplays and submitting them to competitions in an attempt to justify three years of studying.