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Apple vs. Google: Replacing Apple's stock iOS apps with Google apps

Joel Mathis | Aug. 28, 2015
Google makes so many apps for iOS, we thought maybe we could live the Android life on our iPhones. And you know what? A Google life ain't always easy on iOS.

As for Chrome: While it’s my default browser on my Mac, it’s iffier on iOS, thanks in part to Apple’s mobile browser restrictions. The advantages: Chrome had better voice search options than Safari, and it has a Notification Center widget. But I like Safari’s ability to save bookmarks as app icons. A toss-up, but I lean Safari here. 

Finally, Google Docs is in many ways inferior to Pages, which offers more sharing options (including AirDrop compatibility) and more templates for starting precisely the kind of document you want to create. If you’re wanting to collaborate with other people on a document—a feature both services offer—well, more of your friends and colleagues are probably using the Google option. Because so much of what I do is straight-ahead text composition—no fancy newsletters for me—I’ll stick with Google Docs, but if you’re an advanced word processing app user, Pages might be the way to go. 

Where Google beats Apple

There are places, though, where you can see Apple’s future in Google’s work.

The most obvious spot is Google Play Newsstand. It looks less like Apple’s about-to-be-defunct Newsstand—which was a container for separate apps for each periodical—and more like Apple’s forthcoming News app that will launch with iOS 9. Publishers feed their content directly to Google, which standardizes the layout and fonts across all the publications. Now that Google Reader is long dead, this is a pretty handy newsreader—and it’s staying on my phone, at least until iOS 9 debuts and I can see how Apple’s new offering performs.

I’m also a big fan of Google Calendar, mostly because, well, it looks pretty. My default is to use the app’s “agenda view,” which just shows me a list of my upcoming appointments—a feature that isn’t available in my iPhone’s default Calendar app. Google Calendar also automatically overlays some types of items with appropriate artwork, making organization a bit more fun to peruse.

It won’t surprise you, perhaps, to discover that Google Maps is still more useful than Apple’s native Maps offering, especially for city-dwelling public transit users. In Google Maps, I can click on my location and see what buses are coming by that corner and when. When I tried to discover similar information in Apple Maps, the app helpfully showed me other apps that could help—including Google Maps. I don’t need to be told twice. Apple Maps will be getting public transit support for 10 major U.S. cities when iOS 9 launches—and my home town of Philadelphia made the cut—but in the meantime, I’ll stick to Google Maps. 

One thing that did surprise me? How much I liked using Google Photos. I’ve never been much inclined to use iCloud, in part because of the expense: Flickr’s terabyte of free storage is too good for me to pass up. Google Photos will store unlimited photos at what Google calls “high resolution,” which tops out at 16 megapixels—plenty for iPhone photos, with the exception of big panoramas. Or you can opt to store your photos at their original resolution, which Google recommends for people who shoot with a DSLR, for example. That option will hit your 15GB of free Google Drive storage first, and once that’s gone you’ll pay $2/month for 100GB or $10/month for 1TB.


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