How Apple can stop Google from taking over the iPhone. Again.

Earlier today Google posted some iOS code aimed at helping developers use a combination of URL schemes and x-callback to basically set Chrome as the default browser from within their own apps, if it detects the user has Chrome installed. Call it a hijack, call it a take over, call it a 5th column, call it whatever you want, but it's a smart, strategic move on Google's part, and it's something Apple will have to address.

Google, once the envy of Soviet-era Russia with the utilitarianism of their iOS apps, has embraced much, much better design as of late. While hamburger-and-basement laden, they're also, for the most part, consistent and even downright whimsical in their design now. They've once again made so the iPhone one of the best Google phones on the planet, and the only phone that offers both a great Apple experience and a great Google experience. That's something no Android phone can match.

Now, I don't really use many Google apps on my iPhone or iPad. (Pause for nerd gasps.) I do use Google+ and Google Drive, because they're for Google-specific services and there are no default, Apple alternatives. For everything else, I use the default, Apple alternative. I have more than just a Gmail account (I also use iCloud and Exchange) and I want a unified inbox, so the Gmail app is out. Apple Maps has a better interface and is good enough for day-to-day use in my area (though I will jump into Google Maps if I have to when I travel). Google Voice isn't available in my part of the world. Google Search with Google Now is really interesting but drains my battery so much I've deleted it (let's get that fixed, shall we?). And I dislike Chrome's interface on mobile even more than I do on the desktop. (I do use Chrome on the desktop quite a bit -- for everything Flash-requiring or Google services involved.)

As trite as it sounds, as many fiesty comments as it will generate, when I use an Apple app -- even one that looks every bit its 6 years of age -- I feel like it's an app someone made for me to use. When I use a Google app -- even the latest, most colorful and animated -- I feel like it's an app someone made to use me. I realize I might be in the minority here, but to me, data is worth more than money. I can make more money. I can never get my data, or my privacy, back.

And that's kinda what these URL schemes and x-callbacks feel like. Google's been doing them for a while, and if you're all-in on Google on iOS, they're a great way to be all-in on Google on iOS. They're not the best way, granted, but since there's no way to change default apps in iOS -- because iOS wasn't made for geeks! -- it's the best possible way, at least for now. Still, to me, they feel like a way to try and keep me trapped all-in Google on iOS, and while it's a part of town I don't mind visiting on my own terms, it's not a part of town I want to get stuck in. Or logged in.

Hopefully responsible developers will make any Google URL schemes and x-callbacks optional, so that people who have Chrome as a secondary rather than primary browser can still have links sent to Safari.

How Apple will handle it -- if Apple decides it's something that needs to be handled -- is another question. Apple didn't spend most of last year pruning Google from the built-in iOS apps for no reason. They have a fundamental differences in business philosophy. Apple doesn't care who we are, they just want our money. Google doesn't care about our money, they just want to know who we are. Maybe Apple is okay with that in the App Store, okay with greater location and data tracking, than they were in the built-in apps. Maybe not.

Apple probably can't block Google from the App Store, or from sucking down as much of our data as we let them. Free countries. Consenting adults. All that. What Apple can do, however, is make the default iOS apps better. Much better. They can make Mail better, and Safari better, and add new features that are so delightful, and so compelling Google apps lose some of their appeal.

There's a rumor Jony Ive is already working on new versions of the core apps. No one can beat Google on services right now, and probably not for a while to come, and certainly not Apple. But software is another story. Software is where Apple lives. The best way for Apple to stop Google from taking over iOS, is to make iOS so good there's nothing left to take over.

Now feel free to tell me how much you prefer Google's iOS apps, or how Apple has to let default apps be changed, or how hamburger buttons are the tastiest kind, or whatever else you please in the comments!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Well until google makes apps that rival that of googles, which I don't see happening anytime soon(maps anyone) apple still will be at the mercy of google and their apps
  • What the
  • Well, get to it Apple. Make better apps. While you're doing that, I'll continue to use my Android phones.
  • Great article Rene, really enjoyed reading it. I have started to use a lot of the Google apps for iOS and I wont lie they just seem more polished. The 3 things that I use the most compared to apple apps are Drive, G+, and search. Apple has a great tool in iCloud, but it's not up with Google yet. Google Drive is far superior to iWork in the cloud. Yes, I know they are different but if Apple has anything that compares it's that. Pages is a headache to use and no where near as functional as Google Docs. Google Plus is nice for iOS because to me the hangout works better than Facetime. Also on the desktop it is wayyyyyy better. That is another area that Apple has something great started, but needs to really make it better. Lastly, until Apple comes out with a search engine (kidding, but not really), Google will always have a prescense on iDevices. Even though Siri is much more integrated into the iPhone, I cant help but feel that Google Now search assistant is so much more faster. I have seen myself using that more recently.
  • I think it is intensely interesting how two people can have such different opinions, and both be right. Sounds like for you, google products are the better option. For me? The opposite. Drive? Yes, has the traditional file system feel. I'd love more exposure to documents in the cloud. Pages/Numbers/Keynote? I use these more than MS Office equivalents. Never use Google Docs, no need for me. Google Now is a little snappier than Siri, but in their current incarnations, I see them as complimentary products, not two choices. In last weeks Mac Break Weekly, I think it was Alex Lindsay who said Siri is the assistant out in front of your office that you call. Google Now is the one who anticipates what you need. I see that. But for what Siri does, to me she does it more effectively that Google Now ever will. Apple does need to allow a setting for Siri that automatically searches the web when she doesn't know the answer, instead of asking first.
  • Nine times out of 10 I just dictate what I'm looking for into Safari's search field. I find that to be faster than switching to the Google app. That way I'm not giving up Safari's privacy settings, plus Apple makes a little money from Google for every search I do.
  • Google now does nothing for me apple maps work better then google where I live (middle of nowhere) and google plus is to much work to be worth using, chrome isn't as all powerful as some people think it is I think all of googles power is in the fact that they have branded them selfs as the cool Company even the grate gmail loses my stuff all the time most of what google does suck just no one else does it free and has a cool factor to it the way google does
  • Might want to see if you're pregnant, because you're missing you're periods...
  • +1
  • nice :)
  • your*
  • true
  • NICE!!!
  • *this
  • I don't use many Google services. On my iPhone I only have maps installed but prefer Apple Maps which are usually good enough in my area. Like others I want to find a balance between privacy and convenience.
  • Apple's built in apps may not be anything special, but their downloadable first party apps are fantastic and have yet to have good enough Google alternatives
  • I had downloaded all of the Google apps, but I ended up deleting them. I wasn't using them, the Apple apps did what I needed, and they were just taking up space. The one exception is the Gmail app, I keep going back to it simply because it has push. Something Google disabled in the Apple app with Exchange.
  • What amazes me about Google Apps on iOS, particularly Chrome, is their much improved performance vs their Android versions.
  • Is that a joke, maybe you should try a Android........but then again after a couple weeks you won't go bad and you can't have that because your in too deep with ios
  • Coming from an S3, I can say that I'm getting along just fine with Google's apps on my iPhone 5. The recent improvements to GMail have cemented iOS as a viable alternative to Android, which is an utter mess right now.
    While I too have deleted google now off my iPhone, I don't see the problem, or why Renee thinks that Apple needs to circle the wagons.
    If there is a small Google Eco system that's actually taking advantage of iOS to do things that native iOS apps don't do then maybe apple might learn from it.
    Personally I think android is way too open and iOS is way too closed. There's got to be happy medium here somewhere.
  • "They have a fundamental differences in business philosophy. Apple doesn't care who we are, they just want our money. Google doesn't care about our money, they just want to know who we are." Wow! Nice! You really nailed it, Rene! Thanks for so succintly expressing the reason I stay far away from google! I trust Apple more than google simply due to the "your money vs. who you are" difference you articulated so well, i.e., I can see when Apple has their hand out for my money; I cannot see what google's doing behind my back (which seems to be their favorite place to hang out).
  • I can't believe that people really are that naive, to think that Google does something to your data that Apple does not. The only difference between Google and Apple is that Google does not charge for your data, it offers very valuable services for free in exchange for something you have no use, and Apple charges you for that. Afterwards, both use your data to their benefit.
  • @Carioca32 big difference you missed Google sells your data to anyone who wants it. Apple uses the aggregate data to build better products. Google's buiness model is to sell you, Apple sells you products.
  • @vueaudio You don't really believe that, do you? If you do, then Apple really has you snowed.
  • I have to agree here. Some people have a "perception" that Apple is more trust-worthy with data or that Google is less trust-worthy. Google doesn't sell you data to others, it uses your data to sell ads. There's a big difference in giving your data to advertisers (which Google doesn't do) and using your data to target advertising to you (which Google does do). Perhaps a refresher on how these two companies operate is due.
  • Since when do people have "no need" for privacy? Or freedom from targeted advertising when they don't want it? There's a department store that tells you how much you've "saved" after your transaction. I smile politely to the cashier, but I think to myself, I didn't save $XX, I SPENT $$$. Google's promise of free is just as disingenuous. Where Google is concerned, as with Facebook, there is no free lunch. I am not a customer to Google. I can't get anyone at Google on the phone, or even by email, to fix my screwed up YouTube sign-in. I shudder to think that could have happened with no customer service if the same problem happened to a GMail account. I am an Apple customer. To Google, I am a raw natural resource for their real customers, the advertisers that butter their bread.
  • You do realise that there is an Apple product called iAd, don't you? And it targets you from the data Apple collects about you, and uses that data to make you buy products and services from other companies. Sorry to rain on your cool aid parade.
  • Granted, I was not happy when Apple got into the ad biz. However, I have never seen an ad in my Apple email, Apple calendar, Apple reminders, and now Apple maps. Data collection, indexing, and advertising are not Apple's primary source of income, much less it's raison d'être as it is Google's. iAds are primarily a way to support developers and are avoided by two means: 1) By BUYING apps and avoiding free apps that have iAds. I like supporting developers with my own cash for writing good, ad-free software. 2) By opting out of iAd tracking on my iPhone. To quote Apple: "Ad Tracking iOS 6 introduces the Advertising Identifier, a non-permanent, non-personal, device identifier, that apps will use to give you more control over advertisers’ ability to use tracking methods. You can reset a device’s Advertising Identifier at any time. And, if you choose to limit ad tracking, apps are not permitted to use the Advertising Identifier to serve you targeted ads. In the future all apps will be required to use the Advertising Identifier. However, until then you may still receive targeted ads." See for yourself at… Does Google and OEMs furnish Android users with the same option?
  • Yes actually, you can opt out of personalized apps on all Google products...of course, the check box is obscurely placed, but you do have the option. From what I remember of my iPhone 4, iAds isn't exactly on the home screen either... It is one thing to be a fanboy, it is something completely different to become blind to what the rest of the world has to offer and disregard it so brazenly. Take this from an ex-apple lover...Google mobile services are far better and more polished than their Apple counterparts.
  • No settings on any phone are found on the home screen. They're in Settings. Does Google provide a resettable anonymized Advertising Identifier?
  • can have quite a few toggles on your android homescreen, those do qualify as settings...on iOS too. but w/e, i wasn't being literal and both of us know that. As for anonymous identifiers, you can disable targeted ads. of course, your issue stems from google and other companies having your data to begin with...well, yes, google does gather non-individualized data...they have no interest in you per se, but you are a viable customer...i don't see that as a breach of privacy provided they do not blatantly sell to third parties (which they don't), they are a search engine company. That said, Apple has to aggressively publicize the fact that iAds can be anonymized because they have gone to great lengths to publicize that google uses targeted would look pretty bad on them if they did not do so. Whereas google feels no need to let the avg user know they can do so and lets face it, the avg user is not aware that the ads are targeting them and honestly does not care (source: someone on this very thread stated that they like the targeting because it makes them feel google cares or something like that...not that i'm classifying them as the avg user). Btw, that leads me to a question...why do you feel that apple's privacy policy is so much superior to Google's? the actual content is mostly the same. Do you feel that paying a higher price for a device or service earns you better privacy?
  • No. Just being a paying customer, period.
  • If you think that paying entitles you to privacy then you're sorely mistaken (or an obstinate Apple fanboy who believes anything Apple publishes). Just because there are no ads being being displayed does not imply your data is not being collected. Of course, you may go on arguing...I was only replying to you because i thought you were an intelligent individual who merely had a few facts wrong, i now see that is not the case.
  • Nice ad hominem.
  • The core apps for iOS kind of suck. There is a reason why they fired Forestall and are rumored to be doing a complete overhaul of the core apps. This Apple vs Google meme is always odd. Google should be applauded for making iOS a preferred platform (talk to the Windows phone guys and ask then how Google apps are running). I suspect the author was one of those guys who used to rail against the evils of Microsoft during the dead Mac days (even though they supported the platform).
  • Google will continue to have apps on iOS until Apple comes up with the same services on their devices. Apple Maps was a flop so Google released Google Maps to iOS. I don't know anyone that uses Siri on a daily basis. I use Google Now from the time I wake up to when I call it a day. Google doesn't care that it has it's app suite available for iOS users because it already has a good following of Android users, and yes I am one of them.
  • Google didn't make an iOS maps app because Apple maps was a flop. Even if Apple maps was awesome they'd still want iOS users using their product.
  • Correct. Google made Google Maps for iOS for their own interests, not for Apple's benefit. The more devices Google has its services on, the more data it collects. The more data it collects, the more money it can get from advertisers.
  • Not going to be hard work in my opinion. I don't use any of their apps I have google maps which I use strictly for playing around with street view and I downloaded google now when it was added to try it out but haven't touched it since the second day. Apples apps already are more useful to me.
  • this is not a problem it's a benefit.
  • I don't use any google service apart from YouTube and even then it's maybe once a week. All my search engines are set to Bing as well. I just don't like what Google stands for...
    Where I think the article gets it wrong is the piece about Apple not aggregating and selling personal information. They do it as well, they just come across as more trustworthy.
  • Where is Apple selling my personal information?
  • Google, Apple, and Microsoft all collect our information, and use it however it benefits them. Don't be naive enough to think that Google is the only one.
  • +1
  • +1
  • iAd
  • We were very disappointed when apple maps on our iPhone app (iFootpath) - but things have improved. but still often see cloud instead of landscape. I also use bing quite a lot but hits to our website from search engines are 95% google
  • Step one. Forward all emails to your gmail account and create "send from" setup for them.
    Step two. Use Sparrow, Gmail app or Apple Mail app and now have a unified email inbox.
    Step three. Use the one you like the most. Come on Rene, I'm assuming you know this. Is it because you don't want those other email addresses going through and being seen by Google? To the main point, what the hell has Apple been doing these last 4 years? The phones are slightly better, but their entire software team has NOTHING to do with that. Nothing has changed on iOS for YEARS except for poorly integrating Siri and badly copying Androids Notification bar. if I don't get a really nice update I'm bouncing to that rumored Galaxy 4S phone for photographers. Oh man that is my dream phone.
  • You haven't been using iOS for years if that's what you think..,
    It hasn't been called iOS for 3 years yet.., Added in the last 4 years: MMS, cut, copy and paste, compass, video recording, camera focus, Find My iPhone, multi photo email, HTML5, Bluetooth: A2DP, AVRCP, voice control, push notifications, APIs for music, mapping, email video, Exchange device encryption, iPad support, multitasking, FaceTime, iBooks, home screen wallpaper, multiple Exchange accounts, folders, digital zoom, unified inbox, attachment handling, Bluetooth keyboard support, SSL VPN support, Game Center, AirPlay, AirPrint, web page text search, voice memos, text tones per contact, home sharing, personal hotspot, notification center, iMessages, newsstand, reminders, twitter integration, iCloud, rich text in email, photo editing, photo stream, safari reader, synced bookmarks, keyboard shortcuts, emoji, OTA updates, iTunes purchase history, Siri, tabbed browsing, airplay mirroring, Facebook integration, passbook, shared photo streams, turn by turn navigation, 3D maps view, VIP email, safari fullscreen landscape mode, camera panorama mode, face detection, HDR mode, lock screen music controls. So, they have done much in 4 year.
  • Sorry, coming from Android where I could already do all this stuff (OK, maybe not always 100% fluidly) I'm not really impressed. Airplay...and...passbook? Those two are really the only things that weren't stand alone third party apps already, and Windows beat them to the punch with their version of Airplay first. Buying out a company and bringing them into the fold (or flat out copying it) isn't really being innovative, friend. So in essence Apple said, we can't offer you all this stuff Android is already doing because the battery life won't be great, as you see in most Android phones. So we'll make you wait while we figure out how to improve battery life. I'm not that impressed. For years with OSX, Apple was about pushing forward and being truly innovative, lately they been stagnant. I won't try to pretend I know why. Maybe it's trying to find a way to make their three platforms coexist in a more fluid way, but by not updating simple things like the apps we use everyday, Mail, Safari, Calendar, Phone dialer, or only updating them to give us what all Android users already have, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal. To think that I still can't start dialing a persons name on the keypad and have it do a search for me is ridiculous. Also, I jailbreak, so I'm using apps that feel light years ahead of the iOS apps. Having push with Sparrow+ is hands down the greatest email experience on a phone I've had with either platform. So I admit I'm a little spoiled. OK, I'm a lot spoiled that we're even wasting time talking about any of this when people are starving not 2 miles down the road from me.
  • +1
  • " Is it because you don't want those other email addresses going through and being seen by Google?" Ummm...probably. S4 is your dream phone? How much did Samsung pay you for that comment? ;-)
  • No, the S4 looks like all their other plasticy phones. There's a rumor of a new one with a 4.3 inch screen and larger sensor camera being tailored specifically for photographers. If it becomes a reality, I'd jump ship in a second.
  • "Apple doesn't care who we are, they just want our money. Google doesn't care about our money, they just want to know who we are."
    As soon as I read this, I knew I had to login to post a comment. Awesome!! Two different company philosophies explained in two simple lines. This will be my FB status for today :P And I will credit you for the quote. :)
  • I hope iOs 7 brings it.
  • I don't see how choice is a "takeover." If I want my default browser to be Safari, I simply leave it as my default. If I want Chrome, I can now make it my default browser. Choice is good. If others are worried that Google apps are being chosen over Apple's, they should ask the deeper question: why are they being chosen. It forces Apple to "up" it's game for better apps, forces Google to provide more features than they have been doing in their apps, and the winner is the consumer, and Apple (who gets their money from selling the iPhone, not from people using the built in apps). We are still buying iPhones so Apple should be happy. I personally like a few (gmail, Chome browser, calendar and Google+) Google services, but I also happen to prefer Apple's hardware and overall ecosystem. As Apple and Google updates and releases services, I choose which I want to use on my iOS devices and MacBook Pro. Using Chrome browser on all my hardware is a tremendous benefit. I work in the Government, a lot of firewalls block Safari from syncing bookmarks (as well as iTunes). Chrome works brilliantly through all firewalls.... Thus my adoption for Chrome. Also I like the extensions for Chrome.
  • It's a takeover because it's a circumvention of the default system, just as Google's circumvention of Safari's privacy settings was a takeover. I have not downloaded Chrome. Why? Because when I go to a page I've traveled to from the Google search app and want to share that page, I can share it via Google+ or email. No Twitter and no Facebook options, even though those are iOS system integrations. Google is attempting to set up its own ecosystem within Apple's ecosystem by bypassing the defaults. That's the difference between choice and takeover.
  • I guess you can put me down as all in with Google on iOS. I use GMail, Chrome, YouTube, Golgle Drive, Google Maps, Google Search/Now (no battery problems so far), and Google+. I find Google's apps to not only have the best functionality and data (Google Maps is light years ahead of everything else in the UK), but all the Google apps also look great. They're clean, fresh, modern, and beautiful. The difference between the Google Now cards and the hideous Siri/notification centre pull down skeuomorphism is night and day. I want Apple to let me let Google take over my phone more completely. I want Google Now instead of notification centre, and I want Google Search instead of Siri. The only dud Google App on iOS I've tried was Field Trip, which really did hammer the battery and has virtually no information in the UK anyway.
  • Why don't you just go ahead and get the real experience and get Android, it really is light years ahead of apple and is why I and many others switched
  • I agree with you 100%, Rene. I used to be all-in on Google services, back when they were pretty much the only player in the market that integrated your data across multiple operating systems. But privacy concerns have gotten the best of me as of late and I have ditched everything except Google Voice (still the only player that does phone call re-routing and allows me to use one forward-facing phone # to hide my real ones) and Chrome on the desktop (I have tried to switch to IE, Firefox, or even Opera but they just are not as good... but mobile Safari works just fine for me and I hate Chrome's bookmarking interface on mobile). I have tried to use Apple for as much as I can because they are not making any money off of my data at all. When Apple fails (as in locking down my books and music to one platform), I usually turn to Amazon. I know Amazon is mining my data as well, but they are likely not giving it out wholesale. Rather they are just using it internally to make recommendations for future purchases.
  • I must say, I use the combination of Android and iOS with the Nexus 4 and iPad Minj. I'm right down the middle as far as apps go. I tend to use gmail, now and google maps. Google now and Maps is a great and reliable way to get transit information. Third party transit apps usually don't update with changing schedules making the reliability of google maps information worth it's weight in data. Apple Maps just doesn't have the data I need for something as simple as getting to work when running late on public transportation.
  • Data quality issues aside, you cannot possibly think Apple Maps has a better interface than Google Maps if you are the least bit interested in traffic information. That dotted red line manages to convey less information and be harder to see - just a poor choice.
  • I cringe every time I see a comment like "Apple doesn't care who we are, they just want our money. Google doesn't care about our money, they just want to know who we are." This is straight from the brainwashing division of the Apple marketing department, to make you feel good about paying for something that someone else offers for free. First of all, does anybody really think Google wants to know who individuals are? What use does one person data have? I tell you, absolutely none, so not Rene nor anybody else needs to lose their sleep about their precious data. Our collective data, on the other hand, is very, very useful, and that is what Google is after, but that does not affect any one individual, not more than what Apple handling our data anyway. Our governments, credit card companies, airlines, banks, phone companies and whatnot have been doing this for more than fifty years and there was never any ruckus about it. Now people act like Google is evil because they do it. Well, at least Google is offering you something in return, very good free services. Second, let's not be naive here, Apple is quite intererested in who we are, what we do, and how we do it, so it can make us spend more money on Apple products. It uses our data just like Google does, as a collective, and it sure as hell makes that collective data available to partners and whomever has its business interests aligned with Apple's. My point is that this privacy talk is moot, no one (besides the government) cares about who any of us are or what we do. Companies care about what thousands or millions of people, to what group they belong, how they behave, how they spend, how that save etc. Google and Apple collect our data, both use it in similar fashion, and sorry to say, we are not any worse for that.
  • If Google didn't care about who were are, where we are, and when we are, there would be no such thing as targeted advertising.
  • Targeted like iAd? Anyway, iAd and Google target groups, not individuals.
  • See my reply to you above about the choice Apple gives us with iAds. Does Google give you the same choice with adMob? Google and company are very much interested in individuals. Technology is definitely moving in the direction of "personalization". Facial recognition software is designed for individuals, not the collective, and Google has it. Do a web search for "google real names". On Facebook, real name requirements are a part of the EULA. Google wants real names, too, but has backed down for now. Don't expect that to last, though. Google Now is a means to the same end.
  • Until Google pays me a cut of my data they sell they can find another sucker to use their products.
  • Can you elaborate why this bothers you so much? To me, I love it. I love that Google recognizes what I like and what I dislike and they make sure that any ads that I see are tailored to my tastes and desires.....and they filter out the crap I don't want to see. I'd pay them for that service, but they're kind enough to provide it to me at no charge. You need to re-arrange your thinking, in my opinion.
  • I'm interested in saving money by NOT SPENDING IT in the first place. Giving away my data in exchange for "free" services which enable Google to badger me with ever more tempting personalized ads runs counter to my more pressing values. Runaway consumerism does not lead to happiness, just more stuff. Google has no respect for my POV on this.
  • Yeah, and Apple does. That's why it charges you AND targets you with ads.
    How's that for respecting your POV?
  • This is Apple respecting my POV:
  • How much would services like the best search engine, Google Maps, Google Drive, GMail, Google Earth, Google Now etc. be worth to you? That is what Google is paying you for your data. Of course you have the right to think it is not enough and decline the offer, but you should not think they are not offering you anything in return.
  • I actually prefer the Gmail app over the built-in Mail app. For me anyway, it just works better with my Google Apps email account. On the other hand, I prefer using Safari over Chrome. I wish there was an option in the Gmail app to open hyperlinks in Safari by default. At least they did improve it recently where links can open directly in Chrome. Previously, links opened directly to a browser built into the Gmail app itself. It wasn't actually all that bad, but sometimes it's nicer to open a link to a separate app for reading later, then switching back to the email to finish there first. Anyway... I don't think there's anything wrong with Google having a way to open links in Chrome instead of Safari. Apple is the one that should change to allow changing the default apps. Users should get the choice. If Apple did that, I'd be able to set Safari as my default browser, and links from the Gmail app would open in the browser of MY choice.
  • Agreed that the choice should be Apple's to enable the user to make, not Google's to usurp with workarounds.
  • It's win, win for iOS users cus' that's where the big boys compete. Add Fantastical, Mailbox, and Flipboard third party apps and the iOS iPhone is the best of any phone on earth.
  • Rene, Google Now doesn't drain your battery when properly set up. Step 1 Open the app
    Step 2 Tap Settings in the top right corner
    Step 3 Tap Privacy
    Step 4 Turn Location Reporting OFF Problem solved. Now it doesn't leave GPS on and your battery life will NOT be negatively impacted.
  • For personal reasons I can't stand Google as a company. As the old adage goes use your money, or in this case data, to make a point. So I stay far away from all Google services. It is not something i try to dis-saude others from like I said it's a personal opinion. However that being said I use zero Google apps on my iOS device and almost zero services from Google. I wish I hadn't started using GMail, that is the only service from Google that I use. I'm also in the process of stop using it eventually. So I totally agree Apple needs to make the native apps better if they are not going to allow users to replace them with 3rd party apps.
  • Just give us an option to change the default browser, problem solved... I don't see why Microsoft were forced to do this in the EU with their desktop software, but its not applicable to mobile software for some reason. Google has been doing it for a while with other apps and it is just annoying. I do have Chrome on my iPhone but don't use it for many things, so i would like the default browser to be my default!
  • Ok Rene, I may be missing something here. Let's suppose Google is the only company out there that collects our data (as if...). Please describe to me a realistic scenario where someone would be adversely affected by that, or why that is not desirable, since it is used to generate or enhance products and services that are useful to us.
  • I don't really understand the privacy concerns with Google, when Apple don't seem to be any better (or worse in some scenarios:
  • Regarding the common assertion that Google uses our data, and Apple does not -- you may wish to read Apple's privacy policy: In short, they reserve the right to do everything that people here decry of Google, up to and including disclosing selected (even personal) information to third parties. Google, obviously, is no innocent, but, given that Apple officially and publicly reserves the right to do the same things, and has *NEVER* formally stated they do not or will not, why do you give them a pass?
  • I would be so happy for apple to improve their mail app, it is very functional but any improvements would be awesome!
  • "Apple doesn't care who we are, they just want our money. Google doesn't care about our money, they just want to know who we are." Very true Rene. Although, I have to ask, if Apple cares about our money, why do they try so hard to control what content I consume on my device? They already have my money and I feel like as long as they get my money, it would be nice to have more control over my experience. I very much like the hardware of Apple products, the smoothness of the interface, and a variety of aspects of Apple products, but with each one I own (MacBook, iPod, iPad, iPhone), I find myself wanting to do simple things that I can do on my Android or Windows devices that I can't do on iOS. I really want to understand why, if Apple cares that I buy their product, are they so against letting me use their product in the way I want to, rather than they way they want to force me to? Android lets me take much more control of my experience and it's very frustrating to be drawn to Apple products for the appmosphere and hardware, but constantly long for Android for the utility. Also, with respect to Google Services, they are fine on iOS if all you know is iOS and you are used to each app not working with any other app. Any one who uses Google Services on Android knows the experience is better on that side of the fence, if Google is your thing.
  • They feel they can get more of YOUR* money by providing what they call a consistent experience. Which is why the only thing that can talk to an iDevice is iTunes (yes, iPhoto/Windows Photo Manager or whatever). Which is why the only way you can back up your settings/photos automatically is to trust that iCloud/iTunes does it right, and it won't even let you see what it has backed up, to verify. The one thing I'd say in response to Rene's statement, how do we KNOW that Apple isn't tracking as much as Google? Isn't most of Android OpenSource? Isn't most of iOS closed? How do we know what's going to iCloud. *YOUR meaning other people who don't care about that choice.
  • I think there a common miss conception about what open source is and I don't think it means that you data is just open for any person passing by to grab. I think you apple peeps are blinded by your master apple, glad I'm not one of them anymore!
  • I really hope this was in jest. I was saying that Android's openness makes it known what Android apps are doing, but Apple's closed source prevents knowing the same on iOS. Also, I have both an iPhone and an Evo3d. Evo is my daily driver. iPhone for work, not going to say where, but it's needed. I'm more an Android guy than iOS. However comments like yours do nothing at all to help Android guys look good.
  • @Mike Palmer, I think you underestimate the intellect of the readers of this website.
  • Google's products are far better. Apple's iOS core products are basic but perform the very basic duties they are assigned to do. Google's products perform those duties but often have two or more added enhanced features that makes them above and beyond.
    There's no way to keep their products off the iOS devices because their constantly innovating whereas Apple core apps wait to be "played out" before they change for the better.
    I would like to change my default browser to Chrome which I have done via jailbreak. It was the first thing I did. Apple may want to give the users not more "control" over their OS but more "choice" this is what Google has done with Android which is why many of their customers love them and many Apple customers always feel like there could be more.
  • I'm down with asking for more "choice" rather than more control. On iOS it always feels like I better like the core app because if I don't, the third party app that is better for my needs will be crippled in a way that makes it irritating to use. It's a trade-off. There's always trade-offs, and I get that. On Android, there are trade-offs too, but crippled third party apps that can't even be set as the default isn't one of them. On Android, a third party app can be as good as the developer makes it. On iOS, a great third party app will still always be crippled by iOS limitations. That just doesn't exist on Android.
  • @nolhayes Please reread Millions of mainstream consumers are very happy with Apple's less is more approach, even if you are not.
  • I'm one of those unusual types who moved from Android to iOS. I was 100% living in Google and obsessive AOSP ROM explorer; A serial flasher. I switched for business reasons as I work with wireless health sensors and Apple has the only Bluetooth 4,0 compliant ecosystem. Now I personally prefer Apple over Android.
    My switch began a wake up call. I was giving everything to Google. All my mail was routed through my Google Apps for Business and my iOS devices tried to be Android surrogates packed with every Google app. I felt great about my approach and everything worked the way I wanted it to. But...
    Everything I did from personal to business was somehow routed by and through Google. Regardless of any justification, it defies logic and common sense to give a single corporation that much trust.
    So, I'll add to Rene's post on what has to happen to keep Google from taking over Apple devices: Folks need to wise up. Nothing drastic, i haven't become anti-Google. Rather, approach what Google does well with the same fundamental skepticism we all championed when we were young, especially that which we used to question government and democracy.
    Bottom line, we give Google far too much trust and credit for the appeal their better apps and services may provide. Be young, stay hungry and question everything.
  • I honestly don't see any downsides to this, for either Google or Apple. In years past, a person who was a heavy user of Google services either had to choose between keeping those on an Android phone, or give them up if they really wanted an iPhone. Now, they don't have to choose. They can get full use of Google services on either platform. Win for Google, and win for Apple for not making users choose between Apple's hardware and Google's services. It's not like Apple is competing for the same services as Google. While there are a few Apple equivalent versions of some Google services, I don't believe Apple loses money due to people using Chrome, Gmail, Google Now, and Maps on an iPhone, do they? If people are buying iPhones and using Chrome over Safari, Drive and Gmail over iCloud, etc does Apple even take a revenue hit over that? Yes, I know that a lot of people here don't use Google's services, and you're not being forced to. However there's more than a few that do, and are now able to give Apple money for their devices without having to give those services up. What's the downside?
  • Exactly. The problem is that in the Apple religion Google is evil, so it has to be vilified and eradicated. Reminds me of a saying about not spitting in the plate from which you have eaten.
  • "the only phone that offers both a great Apple experience and a great Google experience. That's something no Android phone can match." If I have a great Google experience, there is no Apple experience to miss. What exactly is this Apple experience I am missing out on? This?
    I have several iPhone users in my house, and I can't think of one thing they have that I am missing.
  • I have been see-sawing back and forth between Google's IOS apps and Apple's own core apps.
    I do not deny that Google's apps indeed look very slick and polished, but they often lack some basic functions that irritate me.
    I am currently using mailbox because it at least has a unified inbox (something the gmail app lacks, switching between accounts is a pain, and I can't open attachments in apps).
    Chrome lacks reader, which is invaluable to me when reading websites with microscopic text. I hope Safari implements the omnibar and slide to next tab in IOS7.
    Google drive app is a no-brainer because there is no alternative from Apple.
    Currently see no reason to use Google Maps because Apple's default Maps app works fine for me.
    Don't see the point of Google Search or Google+ (not an avid user of social media). Nope, don't find Google's apps that indispensible after all, but choice is always nice.
  • I have nothing against ios itself or its users. I just feel like Apple should quit shooting itself in the foot with all its lawsuits. If they would focus on user experience instead of worrying about others making their purses lighter there wouldn't really be a problem. I don't see any problem with google using their own software to carry things out that you do on their software. I mean, the user has to have downloaded it anyway. If they aren't using chrome, they shouldn't have it. If they do, they probably use it instead of safari, in which case, google is making things better for the user. When it downloads chrome to your phone without your consent, then it would be invasive. The key is to make things consumers want to use and let them make that choice. There are still people that prefer apple's proprietary services. Its just shrinking as the Google experience improves. I'm not big in the apple vs android crap, but people should be able to make the choices themselves based on their PERSONAL PREFERENCE. That being said iphone being the best google phone is an opinion. And its just not an opinion everyone shares.
  • I personally like dropbox apposed to google drive however the document editor in the browser is a plus. I can't speculate much though as I am not an iphone owner. If google can create something to make its apps default, then someone must be able write something that lets a user choose which application to use and set those defaults. This allows the user to officially choose