I’ve recently converted the major applications that I might use on my iPhone 4S to their Google alternatives as offered in the App Store. Some of these get a lot of use and others don’t really get used sparingly, if at all.
Here’s a look-see at what my home screen looks like right now:
The iOS third-party browser scene (aside from Opera) all use the built-in web renderer to display webpages. Some browsers even claim to be able to handle certain Flash content in the same way that Android phones have claimed to be adept at handling Adobe’s multimedia web-wrapper technology. Chrome’s intent isn’t to rock the boat, but to design an app that’s more usable than Safari.
In all honesty, that isn’t a very difficult task.
While Safari is a solid browser for the phone, the only actionable touch that I can think of outside of browsing a webpage is using the deadswitch to scroll to the top of any given page. Chrome adds more swish-and-flick mentality to its effort, with swiping from the edge of the screen across allows a user to switch tabs on the fly, while swiping a tab straight off the screen is a shortcut to closing a tab. The bookmark and active tab syncing that reliably work are welcome additions to the browser and are vast improvements over the implementation of the same that exist in Apple’s Safari.
I haven’t switched to Google Maps out of protest about the latest Apple Maps included in iOS 6, but I switched because of the possibility of needing directions by any other means other than driving.
While traveling in the past year, I relied on mass transit once I got there to get around from place to place, mainly from my hotel to the reason I traveled to the city in the first place. With Apple’s Maps not offering any transit directions of any use, I had to pull up the mobile web version of Google Maps along a mass transit system map as necessary. Having one native place to search these items in the future will be extremely helpful—and I always have the Siri-Apple Maps available for hands free use while driving available by summoning Siri.
Google Drive & Google+
These apps are on here for the same purposes, really. Google Drive is the alternative to Dropbox once I run out of free space on there (so far I have roughly a gigabyte left, so that might be gone sooner than I think), so I’m keeping that around just in case.
I’ve started to use Google+ a bit more lately, but that’s because the iOS app smartly looks into my photos and syncs them with an offline service that allows me to use them at another time, outside of my phone without having to connect a cable to my phone for access. Photostream for iOS does handle this for the most part when the phone backs itself up via iCloud, as does Dropbox for iOS. Having another backup system isn’t that terrible of an idea, right?
The only thing that worked reliably well in the world of iCloud was the mail system, however switching to Gmail has only been an improvement on the app experience. Sparrow’s team was absorbed by the Google machine a few months back, and it seems that the upgraded Gmail app that I’m now using has been largely inspired by Sparrow’s innovations.
Forwarding mail and setting up Gmail was pretty simple and I haven’t had problems with getting or sending mail since. On the web, Gmail is the experience most central to interacting with most of what Google has to offer its users, but on the iOS platform, it’s very much separate from the rest of the Google experience, but still relatively uniform with the design from the other apps that Google has updated.
I think I could get used to this. If anything, it’ll help me when it’s time to finally make a switch for an Android-based phone, which—unless the Ubuntu-phone is a real thing—seems more and more like a likely possibility. The apps are generally more usable than their Apple counterparts, as well, even without the more in-depth abilities that come with Apple’s built-in and first-party applications.
I can’t believe that I just admitted that, but I think that keeping an open mind when it comes to tech is pretty important—even more so than being a fan of a particular device or operating system.