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Google (s goog) hasn’t made nearly as many native apps for the iPad as it has for the iPhone (s aapl), so you can probably count Google among those who think a web-based, cross-platform solution is just as good as an app when it comes to tablets.
The problem with many web sites and apps (which really are the same thing) is that they were initially designed for mouse-based navigation. While you can create touch-friendly web sites, data-driven native apps that access the cloud via Google’s published APIs are much more responsive and provide a better overall experience Here’s a list of some of the best native apps created by third-party developers that leverage Google services on the iPad.
Reeder. As far as RSS readers go, Silvio Rizzi’s Reeder for iPad is quite possibly the best on the iPad. The layout is brilliant, and the Mr. Miyagi “swipe-on, swipe-off” method of changing the read status of an item is perfect. Full integration with Google Reader, iOS and Mac apps, and a wide variety of sharing options make this a must-have.
GV Connect. Google Voice comes in handy on the iPad, especially for managing your contacts, listening to your voicemail, and sending text messages. With Andreas Amann’s GV Connect you can do all that and more. With another app called Talkatone, you can even place voice calls using your iPad.
GeeTaskPro. There are definitely more sophisticated task managers out there, but when it comes using Google’s to-do list, Memengo’s GeeTaskPro app has everything you need. With offline task management and support for task hierarchies, this app beats the mobile web version hands down.
QuickOffice. Working with Google Docs on the iPad via Safari is possible, but awkward. And if your network connection isn’t up to par, you can be in for a world of hurt. Document solutions like QuickOffice Connect Mobile Suite for iPad offer offline editing of documents pulled from your Google Docs collection.
Web Albums. Web Albums is what MobileMe Gallery should be. With its ability to cache photos for offline viewing, Scott Sykora’s Web Albums for iPad accesses Google’s Picasa online photo service, and is a great way to share and view your photos.
All of the solutions above provide an interface tailored to the iPad, and also allow you to cache information locally for access when the device isn’t connected to the Internet. As the battle for users shifts from devices to the cloud, Google’s head start on Apple may erode as their browser-based strategy leaves many missing the native app experience. Thankfully, third-party developers like the ones mentioned here understand the true value that the iPad and Google’s services have to offer when combined.