Google delivers 'return to sender' code for iOS

Apple doesn't let you jump easily from third-party app to Web browser and back. Google unveils a solution, and not surprisingly it involves Chrome.

The callback code opens links from third-party iOS apps in Chrome with a return button. (Click the image for full size.) Google

Code is king at Google, and a Google-made software module for iOS released on Tuesday allows you to go from third-party app to Chrome for iOS and back again with a simple tap.

The module, called OpenInChromeController class with x-callback, is the second end-run around core Apple restrictions in as many days. On Monday, Google updated Gmail for iOS with the ability to open links from Gmail in Google's other iOS apps. Once developers incorporate the new software module, it will open links from the app in Google Chrome, provided that the user has Chrome for iOS installed.

Both the Gmail update and the software module circumvent one of iOS's most-complained about and unique restrictions, which forces all links to open in the browser Safari, even when the default browser has been changed. Apple did not immediately return a request for comment, but it's hard to imagine that Apple would allow Google or any other app maker to alter such a central iOS behavior.

Current iOS behavior requires developers to either create a Web browser frame inside their app, or force their users out of their app and into Safari.

Google engineer Michele Aiello wrote in the blog post announcing the callback module that it will not only be able to detect if Chrome for iOS is installed, but that it can open links in Chrome in a new tab or in the current tab. Developers can also choose whether they want the return button to appear.

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