Feature-wise, Chrome for iOS is on par with its Android counterpart, but is more limited in terms of underlying capabilities compared to other platforms. To address how it’s harder to debug webpages, Chrome 73 adds a new Inspect tool for developers to view JavaScript logs.

To enable JavaScript log collection, web developers can now visit and leave chrome://inspect open in the background of the iOS client. In the past, this lack of easy-to-access debugging tools often forced developers to come up with their own solutions for troubleshooting page issues.

In another tab, reproduce the case for which you are interested. Then switch back to the chrome://inspect tab to view the collected logs. (Log collection will stop if the chrome://inspect page closes or navigates and logs will be lost as they are not persisted.)

This new Inspect tool is intended to “help bridge the gap of missing developer support” that previously required building Chrome for iOS from source. The public version of WKWebView that’s released through the App Store does not support Apple’s Safari Remote Debugging feature.

However, this takes a non-trivial amount of effort which includes setting up a Chromium checkout, installing a current version of Xcode, and waiting for the build to complete. Additionally, a Mac with enough disk space to hold the code and tools is required. This barrier to debugging has led to bugs being filed for specific website failures on Chrome for iOS.

Chrome iOS debugging tool

Building Chrome from source is still the “best way to fully debug web pages,” according to Google. Chrome 73 for iOS is available now via the App Store, with the full release notes below:

  • If forms aren’t filled in automatically, you can now tap on the icons above the keyboard and easily access your saved passwords, addresses and credit card information.
  • Updated default search engines list. You can always choose your own favourite to be the default by performing a search on that website in Chrome, then visit Chrome settings to add the search engine.
  • If you’re a website developer, you can now view JavaScript console messages. Navigate to chrome://inspect to enable, then perform desired actions in another tab. Switch back to the same chrome://inspect tab to view any printed JavaScript console logs.

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com