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Google’s big push to make better iOS apps than Apple

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Some of the best basic iPhone apps hitting the iOS App Store (s aapl) lately aren’t from the iPhone maker, but from one of its biggest rivals. Google (s goog), which recently launched or relaunched a series of well-received apps for Apple’s flagship devices, is now courting Apple developers, in addition to wooing Apple users over to Android.

This week, the company published a recruiting video for an in-house iOS developer team, as noted by 9to5Mac. This video is just the latest part of a recent push from Google emphasizing its commitment to Apple’s platform after its Google Maps and YouTube apps were dumped from their default presence on iOS devices this summer. Google acted shocked and semi-insecure (publicly, at least) when Apple made it known that both apps would no longer come preinstalled on its devices.

Away from the public war of words, Google has not only recovered from the fallout, but has come roaring back and embraced its status as just another developer working on Apple’s platform — and one that’s trying to best Apple at its own game. You can see this outward confidence in the new video, which invites iOS developers to come “do cool things that matter.

Google isn’t just making cool apps that people like on a competing platform, such as its Android mobile OS. It’s making well-liked apps that are core to the functionality of its rival’s devices. By improving on Apple’s Mail, Maps, Safari, Camera and Siri with apps of its own, Google is successfully beginning to wedge itself between the iPhone and iPad maker and its customers. And in the process, it’s begun to build its own lot of loyal iPhone and iPad users.

The last three months, in fairly quick succession we saw:

And this list doesn’t include other popular, earlier releases in 2012 like Chrome for iOS, and YouTube for iPhone. As has been previously noted by the Next Web, the new design language Google is using in these apps is very, very good. It’s quite clear that Google is swiftly getting better at mobile design.

And it’s not an accident: the company’s iOS development team has cultivated a specific look and feel for its products on Apple’s platform. Now it’s devoting and building whole teams to creating apps for iOS. After years of internal debate over the role of apps or websites as the best home for Google services on mobile devices, it’s become pretty clear that those within Google advocating for better apps have prevailed.

People are starting to take notice of Google’s improvement at the same time that Apple’s design chops have been taking some heat. When Apple releases a new app these days, its design is nitpicked to death, and complaints about gaudy textures, poor functionality, and confusing design details get the design community and users in a huff. The Apple Maps disaster is just one example. But Podcasts, Siri, Calendar, Game Center and more have also been met with criticism.

2013 is going to be a year when Apple must prove itself again in many ways: can its leaders improve the company in the eye of investors? Can it come up with more revolutionary products that keep customers coming back? Can it continue to stave off tablet challengers?

And now with Google’s full-court press on iOS, another big thing we’ll be watching for is whether Apple’s internal reorganization can produce basic apps that are core to its own device’s experience and will defend and reassert Apple’s design strengths.

20 Responses to “Google’s big push to make better iOS apps than Apple”

  1. Google are fighting but losing , how can they beat apple on their own hardware? They are just pathetic and the devices are so slow and rubbish, Google wishes they were better than apple. Apple all the way

  2. Maria Rossi

    How can google make better iOS apps than apple? that’s pathetic its apples hardware apple know how to make a good iOS app not google, googles just sour after Samsung losing the court case

  3. Matthew Lorono

    I had more functionality on my old Treo 600 than the iPhone 1, 2, and 3. The fancy UI and screen didn’t make up for lose in function. When Android came out, I didn’t have to make a sacrifice to switch.

  4. That ‘innovation’ element has been largely missing from Apple of late. In the past year, Apple’s only focus has been ‘thinner and lighter.’ Sure, under the hood, they’ve done some spectacular things but the end user isn’t affected largely by this. Innovation has been the only way to beat the competition even in a copycat environment but Apple has certainly been lagging behind.

    In its attempts to own the system, it kicked out two darling apps. Google’s success has partly been due to their flat and simplified design and functionality and partly due to an overwhelming need for those apps – Maps and YouTube.

    • Like you said, the amazing things happen underneath. Sharper displays with ever-faster processors but with roughly the same battery life; I’m sure this affects users more than just a little, even if they don’t know it (because everything seems to be “as per normal”.).

      Unfortunately, users only see what they can see. Even larger screens, fancy (but underused) features, etc.

  5. Richard Sequeira

    I think you misunderstood some of my arguments. I was referring to Apple’s reluctance to adopt new features. Basic multitasking has been present in Android since the early days of the G1. In contrast, Apple was slow in delivering basic Cut, Copy, and Paste. As a former iOS user I can sure tell you how it was painful to multitask when tuning another app. I can also tell you that Apple claims to have innovated many of the features. In their defence however I can say that Apple fostered such environment and executes it well, but not without its problems

    If you look at Apple’s success, their success was huge, but they slowly came into competition with Android at around 2010 when people began to see its first phases of the Android Invasion. How can you explain that by 2010 the first slew of Android phones already had Voice automation, Front-facing cameras, and hardware that was comparable to a Personal Computer of a few years ago?

    In response to Google’s applications, I can agree with you that at least Google has direct control over YoutTube and Google Maps. Must I say that it was rather embarrassing for Tim Cook to admit that Apple Maps was inept to be a complete replacement for the existing application that has served many iOS device owners for years. It took them a while to admit their fault, much like the antenna gate scandal which plagued the iPhone 4. “You are holding it wrong” seems like a good remedy for a corporation who really cares about the consumers. Surely, their response is to fire the person who was responsible for that error.

    Final Cut Pro X was a disaster like Mobile Me. The first thing I did when I saw this was to retain my previous copies of the software. Why? Because people need video editing that functions and not overly simplified. You can’t simplified what has worked for people in this particular industry. We don’t need our application to behave like tablets. I can agree that Final Cut Pro X is a useful tool, but no need for over simplification. Most people who use Final Cut Pro are not teenager who make YouTube Videos, if people want a decent video-editor, why not try iLife.

    How many years has it been since their was a Mac Pro update? People still use Mac Pros for the purpose of editing video, application development, and most importantly their robust design ensures them to guarantees their investment for a time. I run flash on my Galaxy S3 and my husband’s Galaxy Note II, it sure seems to run fine. Why should Adobe back down towards Steve Jobs claims on how flash sucks on the mobile. If you notice, the web still uses Flash for a lot of content.

    Google is a collection of services and has grown from being a search engine, we all understand this. The developers at Google saw the importance of the Android operating system. The developers knew that Google Advertising wasn’t enough to suffice the need for profits. Google succeeds either way. Apple’s shares are dropping. So much for just a stretch of screen and an A6 processor.

    • Ted Colbert

      Geez….don’t use antennagate as an example. You ruin your argument when you bring up that. I used the iPhone 4 for two years without a case and never had a single issue. That was total media bs. The rest of your arguments ill buy. I’ve decided to try a galaxy note and am loving android. There are times I love the size and other times (say coffee in one hand) that I wish I had gone with the smaller Samsung device.

    • Nicholas Paredes

      Flash was horrible on mobile! Thank goodness Apple never allowed that garbage to pollute iOS. I couldn’t find mobile processors fast enough to do anything useful in mobile, which is actually how I wound up working with developers once the SDK was released.

      Apple will do nothing ahead of its time commercially. Get over it. The knew multi-tasking would be useful and necessary. They were simply unsure of the implementation and need. Mobile is tasked based. Managing background apps is silly for most people, which is the number one complaint I hear on Android.

      Apple is over 50% in the US, because the early adopters for Android are now turning around and buying iPhones. They are well under 50% everywhere else, because the Android devices are cheaper, and as a starter smart phone see,s to do everything necessary. Lets not even get into usage.

      I highly respect Google and their new iOS efforts. I use most of their apps as primary tools. The conversation will be good for Apple, because their apps need quite a bit of help.

  6. H. Murchison

    Actually I almost prefer Jasmine to Youtube’s native app. I’m growing tired of managing spam with Gmail and have contemplated moving my primary email to another account until I realized email just isn’t that important anymore.

    Google+ actually is the biggest surprise to me yet I don’t think they are going to get people to migrate over from Facebook.

    Siri is much more integrated into iOS than “any” 3rd party can ever hope to be so there is no way anyone supplants it (the ability to set clocks, timers, send email and texts is a game changer)

    Chrome on a Mac is understandable because of its extensions and other add-ons but since those don’t exist within the mobile environment and Chrome doesn’t use the fastest javascript engine that Safari mobile has there’s little reason for me to switch.

    2013 should be a big software year. iLife and iWork could use some great iCloud integration and feature improvements and something new could come.

    I think Google’s doing great but Apple’s a media company and they have yet to play their hand.

    • Only my opinion because I have jailbroken my device:
      i like the default youtube app better, matter of opinion
      gmail spam is not gmail’s fault. Saying that email isn’t important to me isn’t true. i check t constantly, 3-6 times a day. I set it to filter important aspects and just archive everything it doesnt catch
      dont use goggle +
      i like using google’s search app for questions that need answering, weather i get from NC. I also find that tapping the screen to set alarms and other things is usually faster than telling siri to do so.
      Since i jailbroke my phone, chrome on ios does use that fast javascript engine that safari has due to nitrous tweak. Maybe not as fast as mobile safari, but being able to go from phone to computer and back again quickly is important enough for me to overlook that.

    • Richard Sequeira

      You seem to sing all of the praises to Apple, but you should know that the current smartphone that is selling is the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Note II, why? Because Apple has failed for the past three years in providing some of the features that a typical smartphone running Android. For example NFC, the use of a front camera, multitasking, etc…

      Sure Apple may have implemented a lot of the features listed, but the funny part is how Apple tends to make claims that they “Invented” a lot of iOS features, how about Passbook? It is a half-baked copy of Google Wallet. How about the iPhone 5? It sure seems like they just stretch the screen and they claim to be so innovative that they expanded the battery life of a mobile phone. Another blunder that is the removal of Maps and YouTube from the iOS. Could it be that Apple wants to remove any Google influence from the iOS devices? If so what is the best alternative to Google Maps? They came out with Apple Maps with numerous bugs and flaws. Would it have been rational to have introduced the application before integrating and removing such a vital application from the operating system?

      Second, Apple has been alienating the Prosumer base, the very base that was loyal when Apple was in a very dire situation. Instead Apple, has been removing and imposing features that are ridiculous to people like me who do video editing and requires a powerful Macintosh. What they have done is upgrade a display and soldered the components to the point that the only way to upgrade is to essentially buy a new computer. Apple has also attacked its loyal developers like Adobe. A Macintosh is useless to me if I can’t use Adobe Flash or have dumbed down tablet versions of its applications on the Mac. Apple better rethink its strategy in regards to the professional market or they will see their demise all because they have to sell out to the mindless consumers who just sing the praises to a crumbling empire.

      • H. Murchison

        Richard. If someone wants a larger screen then the Galaxy SIII is a fine phone. However there’s little reason for an iPhone 5 user to be jealous. There’s simply no game changing usage scenarios for NFC right now. Square seems to handle payment processing on my iPhone just fine. I can walk into a Starbucks and never have to tap my phone to anything to buy a coffee and they are are just one of many using Square for payment processing.

        iOS has multitasked for a while …unless you propose to tell me how my music miraculously continues to play in the background or my apps continue to download as I do other things.

        I’m glad that Google is now in control of their own apps. We’ve gotten an improved Youtube and Google Maps now because of it. Both companies work harder on their own technologies and that’s how it should be and how it will benefit consumers the most.

        Final Cut Pro X was a big change but if you understand the underpinnings it was pretty clear that this change needed to happen. 7 updates later Final Cut Pro X is becoming a useful tool. Macs run Flash just fine it’s the mobile devices that aren’t a good fit for Flash and Adobe agreed because they deprecated Flash on ALL mobile devices.

        The Pro market is important but let’s not kid ourselves. Mobile is where it’s at and that’s why Google bought Android from Andy Rubin and has sunk billions into it. It surely wasn’t so that you could edit video better.

      • You are way behind time and need to keep to keep up with where Apple is going with their hardwares and softwares.

        By sprouting your behind time and false information you are not doing yourself any favour.

        One more thing you can watch any Flash porn movie with the latest Macs.

    • Only they’re not a media company. They’re a hardware company that also has a revenue stream from put throughs of media. Fundamentally, their business model is about creating captive audiences for their hardware not creating hardware for their media. If you want to see what a company looks like that does exactly that, glance up the coast to Bezos’ Amazon and their Kindle line.