Gmail and Chrome can now be set as default apps in iOS

With the launch of iOS 14, Apple didn’t overly advertise a new feature that has been requested for years. They quietly announced that the latest version of their mobile software allows users to set their own default apps for email and browsers. Google has now updated their Gmail and Chrome apps to take advantage of this new feature in iOS.

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In a new support page, Google explains the relatively process. You simply visit the settings page on your iPhone or iPad, select Gmail, then click Default app, and switch it to Gmail.

As you would expect, Apple has buried the option to switch your default browser pretty deeply. You need to go into your Setting app, then scroll down (or search) to find your browser’s app-specific settings. Once there, tap the new Default Browser App option, and then select your browser of choice from the list that appears. Chrome, once updated, will appear in this list, with Firefox also now having been updated to make use of the feature.

All links you tap on your phone should now automatically open Chrome (or any other selected browser).

Unfortunately, not all great browser features you find on desktops or Android devices will be available. Releasing this feature is largely an empty gesture from Apple, as they still force all third-party browsers to use Safari’s WebKit browser engine; all iOS browsers should work more or less the same. So no matter which browser you use, it will largely still feel like Safari in function, even though it may look like your favourite browser. Nevertheless, at least the feature exists now.

While Apple will never open up iOS to large scale changes from third party developers (it keeps tight control over its ecosystem), it has slowly allowed a couple of external enhancements. The first notable example was being able to change your keyboard back in 2015. Let’s hope, for the sake of competition, that this trend continues.