SAN FRANCISCO -- Google's Chrome browser can now be used to surf the Web on the iPhone and iPad.
The Chrome application released Thursday is the latest volley in the escalating rivalry between Google Inc. and Apple Inc., which makes those two popular mobile devices. The announcement highlighted the second day of Google I/O, an annual conference that the company hosts in San Francisco for computer programmers around the world.
Google's attempt to supplant Apple's own Safari browser comes a day after it unveiled plans to sell a low-priced tablet computer to compete against the iPad and Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle Fire.
If Chrome turns out to be a hit on Apple's mobile devices, it could help boost Google's profits, even though it's free, because Google now shares some advertising revenue with Apple in exchange for Apple building the Google search engine into the mobile version of Safari.
Google won't have to pay commissions on revenue generated from searches done through Chrome.
Macquarie Capital analyst Ben Schachter estimates that Google relinquishes up to 60 percent of the advertising revenue flowing from mobile searches on Safari.
The arrival of Chrome on Apple's mobile operating system comes a month after Yahoo Inc. released a browser called Axis for the iPhone and iPad.
Unlike Axis, however, Chrome already is one of the most popular alternatives to Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer on traditional computers. Google said Thursday that Chrome now has 310 million active users, up from 160 million a year ago.
Since Google released the browser in 2008, Chrome also has become the foundation for an operating system powering a line of lightweight laptops that debuted last year. The so-called Chromebooks, which had been sold only online, will be available in 100 Best Buy stores in the U.S. beginning Thursday.
Last month, Google announced its plan to rely on Best Buy to sell the machines, which so far haven't made much of a dent in the personal computer market.