Will Chrome for iOS be able to use Google’s new browser rendering engine Blink?

Will Chrome for iOS be able to use Google’s new browser rendering engine Blink?

No, Chrome for iOS can’t use Blink. At least not if you go by the letter of Apple’s current App Store guidelines, which state that browsers on iOS must use the WebKit rendering engine.

Blink, if you don’t know already, is a freshly announced fork of Apple’s WebKit rendering engine. Google has decided that WebKit has too much legacy cruft and that it has to move on to make it better. You can read all about that announcement here, and the fact that Opera is on-board here.

Chrome for iOS, along with other browsers on the platform like Atomic Browser, Dolphin and iCab, uses Apple’s WebKit and its Javascript component to render web content. This actually leads to some complications when it comes to speed and capability, as we explained when Chrome was first released on Apple’s platform.

Notably, Chrome cannot use Apple’s Nitro JavaScript engine that was introduced to the iPhone’s Mobile Safari browser with iOS 4.3.  Apple uses Nitro in its own Mobile Safari browser, but third-party browsers can only use what is called a UIWebView, a window that allows them to render content using WebKit, but not currently Nitro. The best explanation for this so far has been that it poses a security risk. Regardless, Chrome has some restrictions on iOS, not the least of which is that it can never be the default browser.

But what about it using its own rendering engine, like Blink?

Well, section 2.17 of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines state that “apps that browse the web must use the iOS WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript.”

Yes, Blink is essentially a fork of WebKit, but it is no longer WebKit, and will most likely not be allowed under the current reading of the rules. Of course, a loose interpretation could say that it is a fork of WebKit and therefore could run in some fashion under the current regime, but I doubt Apple is inclined to read it that way.

So, for the time being, it seems that we won’t be seeing the new Blink rendering engine powering Chrome on iOS. At the moment it’s still only in Google’s Chromium experiment channel, so that would have been a ways off anyway. But it will doubtless come to the stock Chrome channels as well as Chrome on Android soon enough. But not to iOS.

Image Credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Read next: Explained: Bitcoin and its dramatic plunge in value today