Google claims it has five essential apps for your new gadgets

Google claims it has five essential apps for your new gadgets

Summary: Starting fresh with a new gadget is similar to re-imaging your computer: You get a fresh start to do things right and Google apparently wants to help you with that.


Opening the homepage, as I usually do, I noticed a new enticing link from Google: "New phone or tablet? Deck out your device with Google." I thought to myself, "I like Google's stuff and I do have a new device." So, the basic Stimulus-Response algorithm took me over and 'Click.' That link lead me to a page that boldly states, 'Get the best of Google: Deck out your device with 5 must-have apps.' "I want to deck out my new device with 5 must-have apps," I thought--after all, if they're must-have, then surely I must have them. I chose 'iPad' from the 'Select Device Type' dropdown and the 5 must-haves were instantly revealed to me: YouTube, Google Search, Google Chrome, Google+ and Gmail.

"Hmm," I thought, "Could these really be the 5 essential apps that Google forced me to explore?"

It's funny but I'd never thought of those five as "must-haves" or essential. But it's even funnier because just like the list of essential software applications* that every re-imaged PC that gets a fresh start receives, these are, in fact, the essentials. 


Long before Google bought YouTube, it was an essential part of our Internet landscape. YouTube has become synonymous with indie entertainment. Every shmuck on the planet with a video camera or smartphone can now create great cinema and post it for the entire browsing population to enjoy. And, if your creation is lucky enough to "go viral," you could get paid though advertisements for that virality, in spite of how bad it really is. As we all know, quality has little to do with popularity.**

That said, there are thousands of well done, quality works on YouTube that instruct, inform and entertain. I love YouTube. It is one of my regular haunts when I'm curious about a camera or other gadget that someone has played with. I appreciate the time and effort that goes into producing the videos. From YouTube, I've learned to load and unload one of my Russian film cameras, how to create the perfect Black & Tan and how to make a Mentos rocket. Such essential knowledge and diversity can't be found anywhere else. YouTube is must-have.

Google Search

Ask just about anyone who's been alive for more than six or seven years how to find something on the Internet, and he or she will surely say, "Google it." That's just how essential Google Search is to us--we've turned it into a verb. Yes, we've done the same thing with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other essentials but Google's search engine is ubiquitous. If you can't find it with Google Search, it probably doesn't exist.

Google Chrome

You won't be shocked to know that Google Chrome is my browser of choice. I'm using it now to compose this post. I use it on every device that I own. It is always the first software download for any operating system or gadget that I have. It is Essential #1 in my arsenal of utilities. I've tried every browser. I've tried not liking Chrome. I've turned away from it when it got "crashy" on me but I've always come back to it. It's fast, it's easy, it's cross-platform and my bookmarks are everywhere that I go. It is the one application that I would choose if I were compelled to choose only one.

If you haven't tried Chrome, you must. You might never go back to any other browser again, once you do. No, it's not perfect but it's darn close.


Google+ lies somewhere in the nether region between Facebook and LinkedIn. It's really neither a particularly engaging social application like Facebook nor is it really a multi-forum, business-oriented site like LinkedIn. When Google created it, I was excited because I thought that it would destroy Facebook as a social networking tool. It hasn't. In fact, of the five must-haves in this list, Google+ is somewhere between must-not-have and just not essential.

I use it sparingly. Unless Google really spends some time and money on it, I don't think it will ever become essential. I think people will leave it because it really isn't at all compelling. Sorry, Google, Google+ is a fail.


Gmail is the only mail application/service that I use. For the past six or seven years, Gmail has been my email service. It serves me that well. I absolutely don't want to change for any reason. My wife finally converted to it after the company she works at converted to it and now it's her only email application/service as well. How much more of an endorsement is that for a service? I use it and have for several years. In fact, I used it when it was 'by invitation only' and have kept it ever since. I see no reason to change.

The service is fast, efficient, cross-platform (browser and app) and free. Additionally, I can configure aliases, use different email accounts to respond to emails, label my email for better efficiency and easier searching and search my email. I also have plenty of space--over ten gigabytes at this point--and it keeps on growing. Thanks Google for the best mail application I've ever used and I've used a lot of them.

A lot of people, technology journalists in particular, love to complain about Google but I find that if you do anything people are going to complain, and mostly, just because they can. No, Google isn't perfect but, in my humble opinion, it's the best we have and that's pretty darn good. If you know of a company that provides you with more free services and applications and a better search engine, please tell me about it. I need to know.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy Google Search, Gmail, YouTube and Chrome. Thanks, Google, you're doing a great job on creating my essential applications.

What do you think of Google's applications? Essential? Disposable? Talk back and let me know.

*MS Office, Adobe Reader, 7-Zip, etc.

**See Glee and Two Broke Girls as glowing examples of this phenomenon.

Topics: Google, Apple, Apps, Google Apps


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Nice full page ad!

    How much did Google pay you to plug only its services and no competitive ones?
    Anne Nonymous
    • 5 traps to steal your privacy

      ... and then send it to CIA / NSA.
    • Seriously...

      It's a story about Google because of the link I saw on their homepage. I don't have to mention competitors when I'm not making a comparison. Oh, and they paid me a million dollars, cash, small bills.
  • I actually like Google software

    But this is exactly why I dumped GMail for Take a look at the devices. No Windows Phone. No Windows RT.

    Sorry Google, no sale. I'll be happy to check out your products once you decide to support my purchasing decisions. Until then, I'm very happy with, SkyDrive, and Bing on my Nokia Lumia 920 and my Surface RT.
    • Hmmm

      You should be able to use Gmail on anything with a browser.
      • Might be tolerable on a tablet

        That wouldn't be acceptable on a smartphone.

        Please note again that I'm not anti-Google. I really do think they put out excellent stuff. I also don't blame Google for not supporting a competitor and a competitor that doesn't have big marketshare numbers yet. Google is doing right by Google, I respect that.

        However, I also have to do right by myself and that means going with a provider that supports the stuff I use. That provider, for now, can't be Google. And yes, I was on GMail back when I used my iPad and iPhone so again, I'm not anti-Google. I switched in October when I got my Surface RT. So far, MS's solution is about equivalent in every way but the office suite where, sorry Google, MS absolutely has the better product. About the only thing I still use my Google account for is Google Reader which MS has no equivalent for.
        • Even a 1080p smartphone

          No matter how small your 2013 phone may be it will have HDTV.
    • I use GMail only to collect spam

      that way spammers are happy, Google is happy because they are master spammers and I am happy because none of my essential mail gets lost in the junk. :)
      Ram U
  • Thanks, but no thanks

    Say NO to google apps (aka spyware)

    Bing Search > Google Search. I dumped Google in 2008.

    IE10 > Chrome . IE10 is the safest and fastest.

    Outlook and Hotmail > Gmail. Google has a lead in email from 2005 to 2009, but not anymore after revamped hotmail and the newly launched

    Facebook > Google+ . My advise is to stay out of social networks.

    YouTube - Biggest piracy site, though good stuff is there. But currently no alternative.
    • Get a https

      Search and email will be secure worldwide. Maybe with 2048 bit encryption if the EU makes Google and others do what Google has wanted to do all along.
  • thank you Google

    Indeed mail, browser, and search are essential applications for most people who are connected. Social networking can be essential for some people. Watching video is nice but not essential. That's all. You don't have to use Google web services if you don't like, they are other providers. I am a Google user and I respect choices of other. I believe Google will support windows rt and phone when they reach 10% of the market but now why should they support your choice if there are no interest for them.
  • Selective Use

    Each to his or her own... but I do like some of Google products -- tracking notwithstanding:

    o Google Chrome browser
    o Google Mail, Contacts, Calender
    o Picasa (selective photo sharing)
    o Youtube

    But to decrease tracking, I don't use:

    o Google search (I use StartPage - aka Ixquick - private search instead)
    o Google+ - just say 'no, thank you'.
  • 5th Essential


    Given your lukewarm endorsement of Google+ (which I agree with) -- may I suggest Google Voice as the 5th of your essentials?
    • I know,...


      but, it wasn't one of the 5 essential apps that they were talking about. Maybe I'll create my own list of essential apps. Great idea. Watch this blog for it.
    • Author Should Look to His Stuff First

      Searching and associating your stuff while collaborating with others is what Search Plus Your World is about.

      If you are about a one way dump to the world with no knowledge of what you have previously written on the subject, then be a Twit.
  • None of those are essential apps.

    A web browser takes care of Search, Youtube and Google+ for me. I see no need to clog up my device with single purpose apps, especially when the use of one is likely going to lead to using the other.

    For mail I prefer a multiclient program that pulls from all my email accounts, not just Gmail.

    For browser, Chrome is still a bit to 'crashy' on Win8, but it was ok.
    • Wait for MS's PR blitz to result in Microsoft's interfaces with Google.

      While MS is lobbying in DC about poor interfaces with Google, it is asking for help it may not want.
  • I would add Maps and Docs

    But you'd have to get off the Microsoft and Apple platforms. They hate Google and will always fight against them with their own products.
  • Google owns you

    You have taken the Google bait, deep. No way to escape buddy, let's hope they will consider you good catch and keep you. :)
    • Google will be 'forced' to accept open APIs for these essential apps

      The good news is that iOS and Windows will also have to provide open APIs for essential apps that don't sabotage the speed of Apps coming from 'competitors'. Essential apps serve user needs and can't be fenced out by would beg monopolists.

      Wait six months and see whether MS and Apple are 'spanked' into opening essential Apps by the EU. The FTC is along for the ride but MS and Apple need the same lesson as Google.