In my role I am always under pressure to bring myself fully into the Google ecosystem – which means moving from the iPhone and iPad to Android tablets and phones, and moving from my Apple MacBook to a Chromebook. However, I am coming to the realisation that I can have the best of both worlds using Google products with my iDevices.
Over the last couple of months Google has come to the party by investing time and effort to get their design skills up to “Apple Standards”. Google Apps’ new generation of iPhone and iPad apps I feel are better than their Android counterparts. Here are my favourite ways to use Google Apps on the iPad and iPhone.
My number one app on my phone is the Gmail app. It connects to my Google Apps account and provides a great alternative to the native iOS Mail app. It uses notifications instead of Mail’s push-email method (via Exchange ActiveSync) which lessens the load on my devices battery. And it’s designed to complement the Gmail web interface so colours of labels, conversation view, and all emails are easily accessible.
Chrome on my iDevices is very similar to my experience on my Mac. It is fast, easy to use and uses the latest Google browsing technology. I get extra, invaluable features when I log into my browser. I can sync my open tabs, bookmarks, passwords, and omnibox data from computer to my iPhone or iPad and vice versa. I can also send web pages directly from Chrome to the computer and access them offline as well. I rarely use Safari on either my iPad or iPhone.
Google came to the table by delivering the Maps application Apple wishes it could have given us. Google Maps on the iPhone is fast. It now uses a different type of graphics engine based on vector graphics which provide a better viewing experience than on any PC or Mac. And it now has voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions and a new interface that makes navigating around the app all that much better. The Google Maps iPhone app is a way better experience in comparison to its Android counterpart.
For all the social networks out there, my life revolves around only two – Twitter and Google+. Although there is much scepticism around the commercial performance and lack of content on Google+ comparative to others, in short Google is playing the long game here. Slowly but surely it is starting to integrate Google+ into all its products. This is evident in Gmail and search, as most people have a Google+ account without really knowing it. I also love the fact that Google Hangouts is available via this app so I can be on the road and join an internal hangout from my iPhone. The app is quick, easy to navigate and is integrated with more services, and I can see more people start to use not only the app but the social network more.
There has been a great emphasis on this product in 2012 and it will continue in 2013. Google Drive had a great year! Google introduced the Google Drive iPhone app last year, and later releases included a sync tool for our PCs and Macs that let users edit documents offline. Google also invested heavily on improving the quality of conversion from Word documents to Google Docs through the acquisition of Quickoffice’s technology. Also with the acquisition,Google Apps Business customers have access to QuickOffice for Google Apps which lets you edit Microsoft documents offline on your iPad.
Google voice search is better than the iPhone’s Siri. There are many comparison articles out there however my experience with both leads me to believe that Google Search is quicker and provides better results. On top of the voice search, the app also has the ability to engage Google Goggles Search which allows searches by taking a picture. It also allows searching within a webpage using the built-in text finder.
With the removal of the in-built Youtube app in iOS 6 users had to wait for the app to become available on the App Store. The good news is that the app is a much better implementation of the user interface and now looks and feels like other mobile versions of Google Apps. Although it has much the same features and functions as before the slick, new interface stamps Google’s continued success in designing great apps for the iPhone.
As most of my life incorporates some type of Apple product, I am hesitant to move over and join the droves of users joining the ever growing Google ecosystem. The good news is that, with the quality of the Google Apps being better than the legacy apps built for Android, I don’t have to.