Hot on the heels of last Tuesday’s Chrome 44 release for desktop, on Wednesday, Google released Chrome 44 for iOS, available from the app store.
Although the latest iOS update saw patches for 43 known critical security vulnerabilities, the headlines understandably focused on two new features:
- Improved navigation, Safari-style
- Physical Web support
Today I want to take a look at the new features, as well as talk a little more about the Physical Web project.
The users spoke and Google listened. Chrome 44 for iOS will enable users to swipe left and right to navigate forwards and backwards through their browsing history. Pre Chrome 44, swiping motions were used to switch between tabs.
From a usability perspective, the navigation improvements are long overdue, replicating the popular swipe navigation used by Apple’s Safari web browser. This will make Chrome 44 feel more familiar to the average user, by making the swipe gesture consistent with other popular iOS applications.
Although the swipe navigation was a significant coup for usability, the Physical Web support feels far more significant: it provides a glimpse into the future of the mobile web.
The Physical Web is an experimental project pioneered by Google, aiming to improve how smartphone users interact with “smart” devices—this is probably best demonstrated with an example.
Imagine you’re standing in front of a “smart” vending machine, which allows you to pay for snacks using your phone. This would, however, require that you download a dedicated app.
For an action as simple as using a vending machine, having to download, run, and then use a dedicated app feels like a significant overhead—especially when it takes just a few seconds to physically insert the coins.
If, however, a one-click purchase option were available on your phone, the use of technology feels far more practical, right? This is the principle behind the Physical Web, which aims to make simple interactions possible with just a single tap, rather than requiring a dedicated app—or, as Google puts it, “interaction on demand.”
This really has the potential to revolutionize our relationship with technology.
Going back to the Chrome 44 for iOS update, users will now be able to experience the Physical Web for the first time by navigating to the Today view. If there’s a Physical Web compatible device in your vicinity, you will be able to access it here.
As the project is still in the early stages, relatively few devices are compatible. If the project takes off, however, expect this number to skyrocket in the near future.
The Physical Web is one of the most exciting ongoing web projects, and the future of the project will likely depend on the initial user feedback.
If you’re interested in taking a cutting-edge web technology for a spin, be sure to download the iOS Chrome 44 update.
And for Android users: don’t worry, you won’t miss out. Google will make the same features available in Chrome 44 for Android—expected to drop in the next few days.
What are your thoughts on the Chrome 44 for iOS release? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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