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Disappointed in Pixel 3? Make iPhone XS your ultra-Google Phone!

Google's Pixel 3 event was… strange. Not that the Pixel 3 itself leaked well before the event. Leaks, whether you consider them advanced shopping intel or surprise-killing spoilers, have only been getting more and more pervasive over the years. It was how Google reactive to them that was strange. Instead of a "you might have already seen it" joke like Steve Jobs made following the iPhone 4 incident, Google released a teaser video heavily suggesting no one might have seen it yet — at all.

It led some in the community to believe the Pixel 3 leaks had been some kind of elaborate and enormously expensive hoax, or that Google had a secret third phone, a Pixel Ultra, that it was going to whip out and shock the world.

But that didn't happen. We got exactly what had leaked. And the expectational debt, already huge, became bankrupting. Jokes of S-years, which have plagued Apple every other release, and more recently, Samsung, turned on Google. And even more so. Half an S. A C year. whatever.

And hell hath no fury like a herd of nerds scorned.

In the wake of Facebook's downward spiral following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and seemingly ever-escalating data breaches that have followed, Google has faced increased sensitivity and scrutiny over privacy as well. And it's faced its own share of scandals, including a now-cancelled plan to see facial recognition to the military for use in drones, a non-canceled plan to re-enter the Chinese search market, and an expose incident all its own with Gmail, the day before the event, which Google didn't disclose for months and didn't even address at the event.

I've done a couple of articles already on how and why to delete Facebook but now, more recently, in light of all of this, a lot of you have been asking how to delete Google as well.

The choice of 'no'

Now, before all you Android aficionados and Google lovers start pouring your rage out into the comments, give me a couple of minutes.

Android is all about choice and, because of that, not using Android has to be a valid choice as well. Not for everyone, of course, but for those who were either so disappointed in the latest Pixels or so concerned with Google's direction that they want to explore a change.

Why just the hardware? First, software, be it the Google Play Services that are increasingly being used to lock Android down, or Google's many other excellent services that are increasingly being used to keep people using Google, is a topic so big I'm going to save them for a separate video.

Second, you may still be fine with Google services but just want a way to run them on an operating system that gives easier control over how much you choose to share with Google, and on hardware supplied by a vendor, namely Apple, that's made privacy a top-down, front-facing customer feature.

Let's be clear, any hardware you use will tie you into the company that makes it. It'll let them collect data and telemetry on you and on what you're doing. So, how companies handle that data and what they do — and don't do — with it are absolutely things you have the right to be concerned and care about.

Since almost everyone who isn't Apple uses Android, not using Android protects you — if you feel you want or need that protection — from every other vendor that isn't Apple.

Also, using Google apps on iPhone, lets you choose which ones, if any, you want to log into, and which ones, with a few huge exceptions, of course, you don't.

Anonymous-ish

Google can still use all sorts of techniques to try and figure out who you are and what you're using — most forms of anonymity most companies claim they give you is a charade if not outright lie — and if you do have to log into a personal or work account for mail, calendars, contacts, or anything else, Google will try to quote-unquote-helpfully log you into other apps like Maps, to pull your location when you absolutely don't have to allow it.

But, if you're consistently careful and conscientious, you can minimize your logged into profile as much as possible.

That's what I do. I have to use Google Apps for work, which means I have to be logged into Mail and Calendar. And I make YouTube videos, obviously, so I have to be logged into YouTube Creator Studio. But, I stay logged out of absolutely everything else, including the web, Maps, and more.

And when I do search, I tend to use Siri, which intermediates my profile with Apple's.

Obviously, I can't do that with Google Assistant. In fact, since every time I try to enable it on my Pixel 2 XL, it demands I give it permission to track my web and app usages, and when I decline, it refuses to let me use Google Assistant at all, even for mundane things that have nothing to do with tracking me, not using it is a super easy choice to make.

Besting both worlds

If you do choose to go with Apple hardware for your Google software, you also get the advantages that come with Apple hardware: Namely, Apple's willingness to spend ungodly amounts of money to develop and secure processes that are sometimes years ahead of other companies.

This year, first dibs at TSMC's 7 nanometer process for the industry-leading A12 Bionic processor, is a clear example. So are the results of combining the best OLED panel process Samsung has with the best display technology Apple has, to provide something that really is the best of both worlds.

You also get Apple's new camera hardware. Now, you may legitimately think Google's Pixel still has the best camera software, and that it can segmentation mask and blur, and OIS shake and zoom, better than anyone else. And that's a perfectly valid opinion. But you'd still only be one Google Camera release for iOS away from getting a similar best-of-both worlds experience as well. Sure, Google may never do that, but history shows Google wants its bits everywhere, and iPhone bits remain some of Google's most profitable.

That's why iOS has so many Google apps, including YouTube, Maps, Gmail, Google Search, Chrome, Earth, Drive, Translate, Docs, Photos, Music, Hangouts, Sheets, Home, Slides, Calendar, Classroom, Snapseed, Duo, Voice, YouTube TV, Authenticator, Movies & TV, Inbox, News, Keep, Assistant, and the list literally goes on and on and on and on…

If you want to, you can legitimately turn the iPhone into one of the best Google phones in the world. Especially if your definition of "best" includes a heavy focus on privacy and security.

Google, but on your terms

It's not going to be for everyone, especially those of you who didn't give me those few minutes I asked for and have already staked your ragey comments several threads deep, but I think, increasingly, in light of how Pixel 3 was handled and privacy has been mishandled, it will be for more and more people.

Maybe, eventually, you'll want to delete Google entirely and ditch the services along with the platform. But that can be extremely hard. So, trying out a new platform with the same apps you're used to can be a good start. Step by step.

I'm going to keep quoting this, but it feels like we're now at the same place with privacy that we were with security back in the Windows XP days. Not everyone is concerned and certainly not everyone is ready to make or pay for change. But some are and if you're one of them, I want to make sure you have all the information you need to make the best choices possible for you and yours.

Now, if you really want to rage, have at it. I'd love to hear your opinion, regardless of the bits and atoms you personally choose to use. If you do have concerns, though, then I'd love to hear those as well, along with what you're thinking of doing about it.

It's not whether we all agree or not that's important. It's keeping the conversation going that matters.

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Rene Ritchie
Contributor

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.

37 Comments
  • Good article. It's true that Apple isn't absolutely perfect on the privacy frontier but I can agree that they are in a better place than Google right now, to say nothing of Facebook. It's hard to see how this whole issue of who owns my information will shake out in the future. That being said, there are a lot of folks using DuckDuckGo and Protonmail on their iPhones who clearly have some concerns.
  • After 9 years of Android and having the the Google XL, Google Pixel, and Google Pixel 2 I made the move to iOS and iPhone Xs this years and have no regrets. surprisingly I am not missing that many Google apps, meaning I only downloaded a few to my iPhone and actutally don't miss Google Assistant. Siri can accomplish everything I need.
  • I was Team Google for so many years. Last year, after Google made me angry for the 432nd time, I jumped to iOS and the iPhone 8 Plus. I have not looked back once. My only issue is that I cannot send SMS messages over Wifi when I am flying and that's not a world ending issue (especially since my mother is getting my iPhone 8 Plus when my iPhone Xr is delivered. The only Google apps I use are Gmail, Maps, and Photos.
  • Rene, the way you speak about the API bug in Googe+ is irresponsible, and it seems intentionally so because... Google? "and an expose incident all its own with Gmail, the day before the event, which Google didn't disclose for months and didn't even address at the event." 1.) This was an API bug that COULD HAVE been exploited but there is no evidence it was...
    2.) It was Google+, not Gmail - 2 different platforms
    3.) Apple doesn't disclose API level or even system level access bugs to the public either. Years of jailbreaks using system access bugs and account level escalation bugs have shown us this. Even bugs found that are patched in point releases (both iOS and OS X) for which there is no announcement to the 'public' for - only notes in a update changelog has shown us this. Then add on top of that, talking about Google in China as if Apple censorship in China isn't a thing then this articles premise just becomes odd. Look I get it, your axe is big and the grinder - she's a turning... but fan site or not, when you write on a public facing medium such as this it's perceived with a level journalistic intent that also brings with it a level of journalistic scrutiny and responsibility for non-biased dissemination of information. When posed against those standards this is a bit shameful mate. :(
  • *******!! Couldn't have said it better myself.
  • Considering Rene as a journalist is an insult to the profession. It has been established long ago that he’s a biased, click-bait fanboy blogger with no interest in disclosing actual facts and only cares about publishing things that fatens his unjustified paycheck. I expect Rene’s enlarged prostate gland (DannyJK) to come to his defense in 3...2...1....
  • "Rene’s enlarged prostate gland" says a lot more about your personality than Rene's journalism
  • Haha that prostate gland doesn't miss a beat
  • Always on form 😉
  • How?? How did you even do this? Do you have the next winning lottery numbers mate?
  • Spot on! Unfortunately, RR seems to embrace FUD as a cornerstone of his style of journalism when it comes to the competition. Journalistic responsibility be damned.
  • And yet you continue to read his articles
  • Indeed... and will continue. Someone has to critique his work and highlight his inaccuracies properly since we both know you clearly will not.
  • I give criticism where criticism is due
  • Cite us one example of you criticizing Rene.. I'll donate my prostate gland if you can show proof ;)
  • I haven't been on imore for a nearly a year now, came back today and saw this article. I'll be absent for another year at least. Itpromike, your comment is so clear and concise. You've just said everything I thought but couldn't quite articulate as well as you did. As someone that has a pixel for a phone, a MacBook for a laptop, an iPad for a tablet and Google homes/Chromecast everywhere, I feel completely excluded from articles on this site. How about articles like, "Have a pixel? MacBook still your best companion." Point is many people are not in any walled garden, we mix and match as we wish! imore just pretty ignores, actually bashes, consumers like me.
  • This article falls somewhere between ridiculous at best and quite irresponsible at worst. You're getting to be out of control anymore. I follow your accounts, listen to you on Podcasts, and read alot of your work even though I am not a fan of Apple because I enjoy a REASONABLE opposing viewpoint. But you are veering increasingly off the rails. Your coverage of the Google+ bug is flat out misleading, by the way.
  • What else is bad about this aside from the Google+ bug?
  • Hard to say. The expectations are so low. Was on iOS for 4 years. The integration of Google Services on Android cannot be matched on iOS, period. Same with Apple services on Android (which are far less portable). You're going to have to buy Apples9overpriced accessories to access functionality that is already built into the devices you own (like mirroring your screen to a smart TV). Long term, it's not worth the costs unless you are willing to remove alternative platforms as an option, moving forward. I specifically avoided Apple accessory devices for this reason, and it's the only reason I was able to easily ditch the iPhone and go back to Android. This is not possible when you have multiple Macs, Apple Watch, Apple TV, etc. The devices are quite limited in flexibility and only feel like they give great value when you have other sister devices. This is why I bought an iMac after getting the iPhone 6 Plus. Of I didn't, I'd have returned it for a Note 4. I forced myself to stay on the platform, basically... Unless you're already using services from Microsoft, you aren't going to gain any productivity in iOS, but you may lose a lot. On the flip side. I doubt anyone who feels the Pixel 3 is not good enough is likely to get an iPhone XS, which is a much smaller upgrade over the X, because of this. The Pixel's cameras, alone, are going to sell most hesitant Pixel upgrades on the device, when compared to an iPhone. This, co soldering Apple and Samsung have basically traded places with Samsung in terms of delivering cotton candy photos and face destroying beauty mode. I think many people who are willing to buy phones this expensive have chosen their platforms. And isn't the XS like $100+ more expensive? I just went back to Android (Note 9), and it feels like I was just released from prison.
  • I've not had a problem with mirroring to a Smart TV thanks to the great apps by AirBeamTV. The "face destroying beauty mode" is technically a problem with the noise cancellation algorithm which I believe Apple are looking into. Either way Android and iOS is just a matter of preference, you won't get the same level of integration with Google apps on iOS, but Google apps still work very well on iOS (at least, when Google decides to update their apps to support the latest iOS features)
  • The Apps work well, but they are crippled on this platform. The mirroring was only one example. There are many, perhaps even dozens of areas where iOS requires external devices, services, or 3rd party apps just to function in a way similar to a bare Android device. Using mass storage devices is another obvious example. This works out of the box on Android devices without need for an expensive Apple dongle (which is very limited in use). Apps that sync in the background are also way better on Android. Using OneDrive or Google Photos to Sync stuff on iOS is a royal PITA, and Qpple Photos is a workflow nightmare. Never said Googles apps were bad. It goes beyond that. Otherwise I would never have gotten an iMac, and just used a Windows PC because "iCloud Control Panel for Windows is good." Exercise some logic. iPhone is not ever an "Ultra Google Phone." Or even the equivalent for Microsoft. You can't even set default apps to make this more convenient, FFS. And no, it's not all preference.
  • You're outlining the downsides of iOS, Android has its downsides too, anything can sound bad when you only mention the negatives. I've not really tried syncing in the background with OneDrive or Google Sync, but I've not had a problem with Apple Photos outside of running out of iCloud space. Honestly I'm not too bothered if I have to use third-party apps to get the same functionality, as long as it works well. The iPhone will never be the ultra-Google phone, that's what Android devices are for, the same way Windows Phone devices would be the best Microsoft phones if they were still around. I think it's still mostly preference, both iOS and Android have upsides and downsides, it depends which ones matter to you.
  • You might feel like you’ve been released from prison, but you’re under constant surveillance...
  • I don't use Google services. Most apps aren't even installed, and everything is turned off. Don't feel like that, at all. I do feel 5x more productive with the device, though. FUD doesn't work on me
  • I flip back and forth between iPhone and android devices and I find that more and more I am not liking how google tries to force me to share location and web history. I do think the iPhone is a great device to use google apps with, and have thought that for years.
  • "it demands I give it permission to track my web and app usages, and when I decline, it refuses to let me use Google Assistant at all" kinda false as it's off on my OG Pixel now and working fine. Also, you can't prove that Apple isn't doing this anyways because they're mainly closed source, yet you can install AOSP and only FDroid apps on most Pixels.
  • Even closed-source, you can still see the quantity of data being sent from your phone, as well as the many systems in place to prevent apps sending data without your knowledge. We're not fully certain what's being sent, but if you disable things like analytics, very little gets sent from the phone and you can track that.
  • Is false. Have everything off on my Note and Assistant works. Just features that depend on this don't work. Don't understand how he can get away with that, repeatedly.
  • Embarrassing Article to say the least‼️ How could anyone sign their name to that?? Wait, It was Rene, Now I get it‼️ If you want a real solid subject to discuss, The Factories in China where the iPhone is manufactured, GOOGLE IT‼️‼️‼️
  • Or the factories in China where pretty much all phones are manufactured…
  • Well Rene, you sure called it about the angry comments. Personally, I'd love to drop gmail, Apple Maps is now plenty good, and the oft-derided Siri actually works quite well for the vast majority of things I use it for. The appeal of logging into the global Star Trek computer that Google is building is waning, for me. I speak only for myself, everybody else can do whatever they want.
  • It's nice to see someone who enjoys using Apple Maps and Siri, I enjoy using them too, Apple Maps works really well for me now, it had a bit of a rough start but it was a worthwhile project from Apple.
  • Siri is barely (if at all) better than Bixby, with a worse today screen and far less "proactive" despite Apple wasting an entire iOS release touting "Proactive Siri." My car has GPS built in, so I basically never use smartphone navigation apps anyways. Can't remember the last time I used either of these. It's been since at least 2014, cause I've never used any of my iPhones for navigation... ever. The mapping APIs are useful for apps that need Location data, but you can pause all of that stuff in your Google Account (and I barely use that account for anything, and have very few of the apps I stalled as Samsung provides a set of stock apps as Good or better than those on the iPhone).
  • My car has built-in GPS and navigation, but they're usually never as good as the phone navigation and don't have internet capability so the maps get outdated and don't show traffic. Siri might be the weaker assistant compared to Google Assistant, Cortana or Alexa, but it still works, and at least for me and pfunkster it works well enough to use it on a daily basis.
  • I’m Google and Facebook free and loving it.
  • Could care less about The Google Event, My Pixel 3 in all white with 128gb of internal-storage kicks ***‼️ I own 3 iPhones, none can compete with my Pixel 3. Just My Opinion‼️
  • So why don’t you open up your own website