Apple Makes the Ultimate Google Phone
In a period of major organizational changes at Google, now is the perfect time to reflect on what drives them as a company and what they ultimately are aside from the creators of Chrome, Android, and your favorite search engine. A lot of discussion has been flying around lately about Google's intentions for the future: everything from applause for taking steps in the right direction, to accusations of abandoning some of their loyal fanbase with decisions like the death of Reader and an increasing focus on iOS apps.
The well-wishers of Google are to be commended for seeing the bigger picture and understanding what is best for Google as a company, and for users of its services. Those that cry doom for the tech giant are looking at the company with too narrow of a view. First and foremost, Google is about data -- it always has been and always will be. Secondly, Google is about making money from that data through as many different channels as possible. Everything else is a side product of those two overarching goals mixed with the passion of some of the most creative and dedicated people in this sector, and that includes Android. Google's own mobile operating system is nothing more than the means to an end.
"Google is raising the bar for quality and polish among apps available from the App Store."
So what are people throwing a fit about? Google apps on iOS. Google has had a stake in Apple's ecosystem since it's very inception, but now more than ever the company is pushing to bring additional services and their corresponding apps to iOS. More importantly, Google is raising the bar for quality and polish among apps available from the App Store. Some may even argue that the apps Google is making available now are actually better than their Apple equivalents (i.e. Maps) or their previously OS-integrated selves (i.e. YouTube). However, dedicated Android users are offended that Google is taking away what they believe to be advantages and exclusives of the Android OS.
via The Verge
Given that Google is all about gathering data and finding ways to use it, they can't possibly ignore the huge chunk of people that use iOS devices. They have recently ramped up their efforts in regards to software on that platform and it shows. A year ago, most Google apps on iOS were just fancy browser skins. Whether they intended to or not, they have ended up making some apps more polished on iOS than their Android counterparts. My how the times have changed. In some cases, the Android apps still have their iOS equivalents beaten in number of features, but it would appear Google is just getting started. They're serious about iOS now. Regardless of what you believe, I'm here to make a case: the Apple iPhone is the best Google phone on the market today, and Apple doesn't even know it.
There are a few catches that come along with that statement, the most important of which is that in order to have the best possible Google experience on an iPhone, it should be jailbroken. The nice part is, it doesn't need to be. The average person can just use Google apps on stock iOS and never know they're missing anything. However, I still encourage jailbreaking if you're a power user. There are a number of reasons for this, but most importantly it is because jailbreaking is necessary to unleash the full potential of the core services and apps that Google makes available to you on iOS... but also because in order for the iPhone to truly best it's Android-powered competition it needs features and abilities that Apple has not yet seen fit to bestow upon it.
"The average person can just use Google apps on stock iOS and never know they're missing anything."
In order to have a truly Google-centric experience on iOS, it's necessary to use additional tweaks to make Google's apps your defaults (presumably something you would want to do anyway). Once you've done this, it's like the Apple apps were never there to begin with. The change of defaults and unlocking Nitro for use by Google's apps would allow you to be Google user who happens to own an iPhone with little to no compromise in your use of Google's services compared to Android. This will be especially true if the rumors of Google Now coming to iOS prove to be correct.
Getting Google software set up and optimized is only half the case for favoring iOS over Android as a window to land of Google. There are so many more things you can do with a jailbroken iOS device, much in the way you can do with a rooted Android device. Since you have the opportunity to do anything you want, adding powerful yet simple features like notification center quick toggles and more advanced system tools. I have gone so far as to craft what I believe is the closest thing you'll get to an integrated Google experience on the iPhone while simultaneously adding features and making changes to iOS's appearance that just feel natural. Google themselves have inspired me to craft my vision of the ultimate Google phone… who would have thought it would be made by Apple?
The iPhone taking top honors as a Google phone has as much to with hardware as it does software, though. Those two elements are blended rather seamlessly on an iOS device because Apple designs both the hardware and software and has complete control over the end experience. This results in iOS having an almost unnatural fluidity to it that is able to be achieved even on subpar hardware. Deeply integrating Google's services into this pleasantly simple and smooth OS is why I feel that iOS is the best way to experience them. But the experience is about more than just the beautiful marriage of Apple and Google software, it's also about the phone itself. One of the reasons iPhone owners cite when asked why they enjoy their devices is the build quality and overall feel of phone. Debates about screen size aside, no one can call the sleek industrial look of recent iPhones "ugly", not even the Apple haters. Beyond aesthetics, the phone just feels good in your hand and the switches and buttons all have a crispness that's hard to match.
For me, a jailbroken iPhone 5 is the best Google experience there is when looked at from all angles. It ticks every box on my list:
-An operating system that got it right from the start and has been polished and bolstered over the years into the smoothest mobile interface available today
-Unmatched capability from Google's own apps
-Apple's own App Store for everything Google can't do for me
-Build quality and good looks that are nearly unequalled in the Android world
Maybe an iPhone isn't the right Google phone for everyone, but for me and for many other people, Apple has built the phone that Google's services deserve to run on. Not everybody wants to be committed to Android to use their favorite parts of Google. Much like the Macbook Air running Microsoft's latest might be the best Windows ultrabook, a jailbroken iPhone might just be the best way to live with Google.