Apple fans can now use Google's popular Chrome browser on their iPhones and iPads, the Internet search giant said Thursday, while announcing several initiatives aimed at making it easier for people to spend more time in Google's "cloud."
Google also announced it will compete with Amazon and other commercial tech companies by renting out data center capacity for software developers
or Internet businesses that need lots of computing power and don't want to build their own.
But most of the focus was on software Thursday, the second day of Google's annual I/O conference, after a previous day that highlighted new consumer hardware products from the Mountain View company. Google, which is increasingly competing with Apple, Amazon and Facebook for the attention of Internet users, showed off new features for the Chrome browser and for Drive, its online service for storing and working with documents, photos and other digital material.
Chrome is already the world's most-used Internet browser, according to the research firm StatCounter, which reported that
Google's browser edged past Microsoft's Internet Explorer last month. Google says the number of active Chrome users grew from 160 million users last year to 310 million in June.
Those numbers should grow further now that Chrome is available for Apple's popular mobile gadgets, where a version of Apple's Safari browser has been the default choice for most users. Having Chrome on Apple devices could protect Google's search advertising business, added Ben Schachter of Macquarie Securities in a report, even if Apple goes through with a rumored move to replace Google as the default search engine on Apple's browser.
In an interview, Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney said Chrome, which is known for speed, may not perform as well on Apple devices because of differences in Apple's operating system. Even so, he added, "the smart thing" for Google is "to be available on as many devices as they can."
Google senior vice president Sundar Pichai echoed that point Thursday when he said the company wants to make it easier to use its software "across all your platforms and all your devices, so that you can live online in the cloud, seamlessly."
As an example, Chrome already has a feature that remembers bookmarks and other settings.
But Google vice president Brian Rakowski demonstrated that the browser can also remember recently visited sites and show them on other computers and smartphones, provided the user signs on with a Google account.
Drive is also available for Apple's mobile gadgets and has new features that let users work on files when they aren't connected to the Internet; changes are uploaded automatically when the user is back online. Product manager Clay Bavor also showed off Drive's search feature, which works with documents and even pictures.
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