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Why I switched to Chrome on my iPhone

Even though it doesn't integrate with iOS as well as Safari does, I have my reasons for preferring Google's mobile browser.

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Chrome's synchronized tab history is a great asset for desktop Chrome users.

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Yesterday my how-to cohort Matt Elliott extolled the virtues of Firefox for iOS, citing it as his preferred mobile browser. The big draw, at least for him? Firefox's screen-dimming Night Mode.

Um, yeah, cool -- but I can dim my iPhone's screen pretty easily myself, and not just for browsing.

Me, I'm a mobile-Chrome man; it's long been my preferred browser on the iPhone. Here's why:

It dovetails with my desktop

Chrome is my daily driver, the browser I use on my laptop. Consequently, it's home to all my bookmarks, browsing history, passwords and so on. Those are invaluable items to keep synced with my mobile browser, and Chrome syncs them all.

I particularly like Chrome's Recent Tabs option, which is great when I have to step away from my laptop and want to quickly access a tab I was viewing there. 

You can access Recent Tabs via the app's menu, or by opening a new tab and tapping the desktop/phone-looking icon in the lower-right corner.

It's good with gestures

Swipe left or right across Chrome's address bar to quickly switch tabs.

Photo by Rick Broida/CNET

Chrome beats Safari hands-down (fingers-down?) when it comes to gesture-controlled navigation. 

For example, if you want to refresh a page in Safari, you have to tap the little Reload icon. In Chrome, you can just pull down on the page until you see the highlight Reload icon, then release.

And while you're pulling down the page, you can then slide your finger to the right to close that tab, or slide it left to open a new one. Both those options are tap-driven in Safari. It's not a huge deal, obviously, I just like it better -- and find I'm able to maneuver more quickly.

Perhaps best of all, you can switch tabs in Chrome just by swiping left or right across the toolbar. If you're frequently bouncing back and forth between two adjacent tabs, that's a lot easier than bringing up the all-tabs view. (Well, okay, a little easier.)

It scans QR codes

Chrome for iOS affords lightning-fast access to QR code scanning -- if your iPhone supports 3D Touch. (If not, you can access the feature via Spotlight search.)

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Yeah, that's right: If Matt Elliott can gush about screen-dimming, I'm giving this feature credit where credit is due (LOL). For the moment, iOS lacks a native QR code scanner. The Wallet app can scan them, but only for things like coupons and boarding passes. It's coming in iOS 11 -- but I've already got it thanks to Chrome.

In fact, it's merely a finger-press away even when I'm not in the browser: By invoking the Chrome app's 3D Touch menu, I can quickly choose Scan QR Code. That pops open the camera and, presto: code scan.

Don't have 3D Touch? You'll have to use Spotlight search and type "QR code." Then tap the resulting Google Chrome option. It's not quite as quick, but it beats having to install a separate app.

I don't need to scan QR codes very often, but it does come up sometimes -- and I love having the option at my fingertips.

What's your mobile browser of choice, and why?