Google Shifts Chrome for iOS to Apple’s WKWebView, Reducing Crashes by 70%

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Google today introduced a few stability and performance improvements into its Chrome for iOS app, mainly centering around the company's switch from in-process rendering with UIWebView to out-of-process rendering thanks to WKWebView. Tests by Google proved the new update reduces the app's crash rate by 70 percent, letting users pick up where they left off on a page from any device without a crash causing issues.

google chrome update

The biggest change is in stability: with WKWebView’s out-of-process rendering, when the web view crashes or runs out of memory, it won’t bring down all of Chrome with it. As a result, Chrome crashes 70% less with WKWebView. Even when counting the “Aw, Snap!” page shown when the renderer crashes, there’s still a big improvement.

Outside of stability, WKWebView brings many other benefits. Web compatibility is improved with support for features like IndexedDB, bringing the HTML5test score for Chrome on iOS from 391 up to 409. Switching to background tabs will cause pages to reload 25% less often. JavaScript speed on benchmarks such as Octane is an order of magnitude faster, and scrolling is smoother and more responsive.

For the web, Google also created a new extension called "Data Saver," that will allow Chrome users the ability to manage data usage while outside of their home Wi-Fi. Similar in function to the extension available for Android devices, Data Saver reduces the data needed to access the web with the help of the company's "compression technology." The extension lets users see exactly how much data they saved and highlight which websites are using the most while out of the house.

Google said that the iOS Chrome update will begin rolling out starting today, and all users have to do is check for the update in the App Store [Direct Link] if they don't feel like waiting for an automatic update.

Top Rated Comments

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59 months ago
Now, just fix Chrome for OSX and we might have a story
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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59 months ago
The biggest feature that keep see bound to Safari is Reading List. I don't know how many people here use it, but I've used it every day since Safari 5.1! Right now I have about 100 articles. Yes, there are third party services that can do this or you can even save them in a Bookmark folder for later, but with Safari it's built in!

As long as Reading List remains a Safari-only feature*, I'll use Safari for personal browsing and Chrome for business-related stuff.

*I believe Microsoft Edge has a similar feature now
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
59 months ago

Now, just fix Chrome for OSX and we might have a story

The way it drinks battery is incredible with one tab open - I can have 10 tabs in safari and it would use less energy than 1 tab in chrome
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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59 months ago

I recall reading somewhere at one point that the transition wasn't a trivial one at all and basically required more or less quite a bit of a rewrite. There were some things that weren't available or easily done with the new view that seemingly needed time to be worked out.

This is more or less correct. WKWebView has a lot of limitations compared to UIWebView from an API standpoint, especially when it came out. I tried to adapt one of my apps to it and it just wasn't possible at the time.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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59 months ago

So forgive my technological ignorance, but I understand that all third party browsers for iOS have always been slower than Safari due to restrictions from Apple that I don't fully understand. Does this change mean that Chrome could now rival Safari for speed?

Basically, developers have to use Apple’s APIs to write their apps. For web content, Apple provides the UIWebView class and the WKWebView class since iOS 8. The problem with these is that they were never meant for creating fully-fledged browsers, but for showing web content within apps. Safari likely uses a lot more functionality than Apple exposes through these two classes, so third-party browsers can simply never compete effectively.

Does this mean that ios9 content blockers will now work with Chrome?

Nope. Only Safari and the new SFSafariViewController class. The latter cannot be meaningfully used for a browser apps.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
59 months ago

Because it is major regardless the Google-Apple competition.
The real question is why it took a long time to google to release it.

Some reasons....
https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=423444


This is a meta-bug to track using the new WKWebView instead of UIWebView on iOS 8+. This would have several advantages we're aware of:
- Faster JS (modern engine rather than the older engine UIWebView is still restricted to use)
- Crash isolation (renderer crashes wouldn't bring down the whole app, better matching Chrome on other platforms)
- Support for IndexedDB (support for which was *not* added to UIWebView even in iOS 8)


Unfortunately, despite the advantages of WKWebView, it has some significant technical limitations that UIWebView does not, which means we can’t simply drop it in as a replacement. A partial list of regressions relative to UIWebView that we’re currently aware of:
- There is no cookie management API, which means there is no obvious way to clear/manage cookies
- Protocol handlers no longer work, which breaks several very important features
- POST bodies are missing from delegate callbacks, which breaks certain aspects of form handling

We’re still actively investigating WKWebView, looking for possible alternate approaches, and providing feedback to Apple about issues. We certainly hope to use WKWebView in the future, but there’s currently no way of knowing if or when that will be possible.

Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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