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!
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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.
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.
http://tmblr.co/Za6kbykiOouy Does Google and OEMs furnish Android users with the same option?
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.
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.
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.
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. :)
How's that for respecting your POV?
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.
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.
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 have several iPhone users in my house, and I can't think of one thing they have that I am missing.
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.